By Wale Akinselure
THE governorship election tribunal sitting in Ibadan, on Monday, upheld INEC’s declaration of candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the March 9 governorship election in Oyo State, Oluseyi Makinde as the winner of the election.
Reading the judgment in the petition EPT/OY/GOV/01/2019, filed by Adebayo Adelabu and All Progressives Congress (APC) against INEC, Oluseyi Makinde, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), head of tribunal, Justice Sirajo Muhammed held that the petitioners failed to prove allegations of over-voting, corrupt practices, substantial noncompliance with the electoral act 2010, while most of the petitioners’ witnesses based their evidence on hearsay, not direct eyewitnesses accounts.
Muhammed also pointed to the failure of the petitioners to plead any alternative scores against that released by INEC and prove over-voting which was a statutory basis for cancellation of results, according to the electoral act.
The tribunal head held that the petitioner failed to tender voters register, relate statement of results to a specific unit or constituency to show that there was over-voting and that if removed will substantially affect result of the election.
The tribunal also ruled out the allegation of anomalies, wrongful collation of results or unaccounted ballot papers, noting that no law compelled an accredited voter to vote.
Also noting that the petitioner presented 37 polling unit agents out of 1,426 polling units challenged, Muhammed held that 1,389 units were therefore deemed abandoned.
However, the tribunal invalidated the result of unit 003, ward 09, Ido local government because the returning officer produced two different results.
Other members of the three man panel that delivered the six-hour-long judgement were Mussa Bazza and Elizabeth Orji.
In the petition dated March 29, 2019, filed by Adebayo Adelabu and All Progressives Congress (APC), against INEC’s declaration of Makinde as winner of the election, the petitioners asked the tribunal to nullify the governorship election for substantial noncompliance with the electoral act 2010 (as amended) and order a fresh election.
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The petitioners, Adelabu and APC had argued that the election should be declared invalid alleging of corrupt practices, improper accreditation, over-voting, inaccurate ballot accounting, infractions, alterations, cancellations and irregularities in form EC8A.
Furthermore, the petitioners alleged disenfranchisement of voters in some polling units, mere allocation of figures for the PDP by INEC, adding that PDP’s candidate, Makinde was not duly elected by the majority of lawful voters.
As evidence to buttress its arguments, the petitioner had tendered 69 witnesses and 4,164 exhibits before the tribunal.
However, INEC, as the first respondent, replied denying allegations of irregularities and disenfranchisement of voters, asking the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
Specifically, INEC hinged its call for the dismissal of the petition on the failure of petitioners to point at specific polling units where voters were disenfranchised and failure to prove irreconcilable entries.
In their separate replies, Makinde and PDP regarded the petition as epileptic, unmeritorious, frivolous and lacking in merit, calling for the petition to be struck out.
Their counsels had argued that the petition’s applications were fill of uncertainty, imprecise and vague.
It would be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through the state collation officer, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe had returned Makinde elected in the March 9 governorship election having polled 515,621 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Chief Adebayo Adelabu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who had 357,982 votes.