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Tribunal upholds Oshiomhole’s election as senator

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The National and State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Benin, the Edo State capital, on Monday upheld the declaration of the Independent National Electoral Commission of Senator Adams Oshiomhole of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the February 25, 2023, Edo North Senatorial District election.

The tribunal also upheld the election of House Leader Julius Ihonvbere of the APC as the member representing Owan Federal Constituency.

A three-man tribunal led by Justice O.A. Chuioke dismissed a petition filed by former Senator Francis Alimikhena, a candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, for lack of merit.

Alimikhena, through his counsel, Rasak Isenalume, had petitioned the former governor of the state, Oshiomhole, alongside the INEC and APC in Suit No. EPT/ED/SEN/02/2023.

The first petitioner, Alimikhena, in his petition, asked the tribunal to declare null and void the election of the second respondent, Oshiomhole, over non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, as required by law, and declare him the winner of the election.

He also urged the tribunal to nullify the election on the alleged ground of non-transmission of election results through the use of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System machine to the IREV Portal.

Alimikhena, on the other hand, prayed for the tribunal to order a rerun of the election owing to what he described as non-substantial compliance with the law.

But in their separate responses, counsel for the respondents urged the tribunal to dismiss the petitioners case for lack of merit.

Delivering the unanimous judgment on behalf of the tribunal chairman, Justice Alero Akeredolu held that the petitioners failed woefully to prove their case, adding that they could not rely on the weakness or strength of the respondents to prove their cases against Oshiomhole.

Justice Akeredolu also held that the petitioners failed to tender before the tribunal any relevant document to prove a case of non-compliance as contained in their petitions.

The tribunal, however, dismissed the petition against Oshiomhole in its entirety.

The tribunal also dismissed the petition filed by Jimoh Ijiegbai and the PDP against INEC’s declaration of Ihonvbere as the winner of the Owan Federal Constituency election.

The tribunal also agreed with the argument of the lead counsel to Ihonvbere, Mr. Ehiogie West-Idahosa (SAN), that Ojeiu’s petition failed in its entirety.

Ojeiu and the PDP are the first and second petitioners in the petition marked EPT/ED/HR/03/2023.

However, the Ogun State Governorship Election Tribunal sitting at Isabo, Abeokuta, the state capital, on Monday reserved judgment on the petitions against the election of Governor Dapo Abiodun and the APC.

The tribunal, led by Justice Hamidu Kunaza, said it would communicate a date for judgment to the parties after counsel adopted their final written addresses on Monday.

Present in court were Chris Uche (SAN), representing the petitioners; Ladipupo Adebutu and the PDP; the first respondent (INEC), represented by Remi Olatubora; Wole Olanipekun (SAN), standing in for Abiodun, the second respondent; and Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), leading the counsel for the third respondent, the APC.

Adebutu and the PDP are challenging the return of Abiodun by INEC in the March 18, 2023, governorship elections in the state.

While adopting their written addresses, the respondents urged the tribunal to dismiss the petitions of Adebutu and the PDP.

Counsel to INEC, Olatubora, argued that the documents tendered by the petitioners were inadmissible because “they were not the makers of those documents.”

In his submission, Olanipekun stated that the documents tendered by the petitioners were not signed, even though they were certified by INEC.

Olanipekun stated that “unsigned documents are worthless, baseless, valueless, inadmissible, and void ab initio. I urge your lordships to dismiss the petition.”

APC counsel, Ikpeazu, said the petitioners did not state the particular polling units where there was over-voting or non-compliance.

Ikpeazu maintained that the entire evidence on over-voting has no platform, asking the tribunal to “dismiss the petition.”

Responding, Uche urged the election court to discountenance the submissions of the respondents.

Uche urged the tribunal to hold that “the petitioners have credible evidence that is unchallenged and are entitled to the grant of the reliefs claimed by them in the petition.”

He described as scandalous the attempt by INEC to discredit the same documents it issued and certified, saying the commission has not come out to deny the documents or present counter-documents.

On the margin of the lead principle, Uche held that elections were not disrupted due to resistance to the use of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System.

He said INEC reports confirmed that thugs disrupted the election, and INEC did not bring any other reports or counter the incident reports from its ad hoc staff, adding that “the respondents’ witnesses also confirmed there were gunshots and people ran away.”

Uche equally urged the tribunal to remove a total of 40,871 votes from Abiodun’s polled votes and order a rerun in the 99 polling units where elections were allegedly disrupted.

The counsel pleaded with the court to grant the prayers of the petitioners, saying INEC has no evidence by failing to call witnesses and resting his case on that of the petitioners.

Addressing journalists shortly after the adjournment, counsel to the APC, Tayo Oyetubo, expressed confidence in the tribunal’s upholding the victory of Dapo Abiodun.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State, on Monday dismissed three petitions filed to challenge the National Assembly elections.

The tribunal, in a judgment, dismissed the petition filed by Senator Biodun Olujimi of the PDP challenging the election of Senator Yemi Adaramodu of the APC in the Ekiti South Senatorial District Constituency.

It also dismissed the petitions filed against INEC by Dare Bankole, a candidate of the PDP in the Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Irepodun/Isin Federal Constituency of the House of Representatives in the election, as well as another petition filed by the New Nigeria People’s Party on election into the Ifelodun/Offa/Oyun Federal Constituency of Kwara State.

Delivering judgment on the petition filed by Olujimi, Justice J.O. Abdulmalik ruled that there was no malpractice or over-voting in the election as alleged in the petition.

“The petitioner failed to prove his case that there was corruption and over-voting in the Ekiti South Senatorial District election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission on February 25, 2023,” the judge ruled.

She awarded a cost of N300,000 against the petitioner, which he said should be paid to the three respondents, which included INEC, Adaramodu, and the APC.

Delivering another judgment on the petition filed by Dare Bankole against INEC on the election into the Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Irepodun/Isin Federal Constituency of Kwara State, Justice Abdulmalik dismissed the petition and awarded a cost of N600,000 against the petitioner, which she said should be paid to the respondents, who included INEC, Raheem Ajuloopin, and the APC.

Bankole had challenged the results of the election conducted in the constituency on February 25, 2023, alleging non-compliance with the 2022 Electoral Act and malpractices during the conduct of the election.

She said that the petitioner failed to prove his case before the tribunal.

Reading another judgment delivered by the Tribunal, Chief Magistrate Izabi Bashir also dismissed a petition filed by the NNPP on the election conducted in the Ifelodun/Offa/Oyun Federal Constituency.

The petitioner had accused INEC of non-compliance with the Electoral Act and alleged corrupt practices in the election by the APC and its candidate, Tijani Bashir.

She ordered the petitioner to pay a fine of N200,000 to each of the three respondents.

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