By Raymond Osho
ABEOKUTA: The legal battle between the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Hon. Adekunle Akinlade of (APM) finally ended on Saturday September 14, 2019 as the State’s Election Petition Tribunal declared Abiodun authentic winner of the Match 9, 2019 governorship election.
Akinlade had after the election, considered to be free, fair and credible by electoral observers faulted the emergence of Abiodun, alleging that he (Akinlade) was the original winner of the exercise, but was manipulated.
To reclaim his acclaimed mandate, the APM’s candidate, filed a suit at the Tribunal against the APC’s Abiodun. But the Tribunal has dismissed the petition for lack of merit and “destined to fail”.
Abiodun had polled 241,670 votes as against Akinlade who scored 222,670 votes.
Delivering the judgment that lasted for over six hours, the chairman of the three man panel, Justice Yusuf Halilu, struck out Akinlade’s petition on the ground that the “petition is destined to fail, fails and hereby dismissed.”
Justice Halilu explained that, the petitioner did not only failed, but irredeemably failed to prove over voting and electoral malpractices at all the polling units.
He pointed out that, the 39 principal witnesses called by the petitioner (Akinlade) we’re significantly insufficient to substantiate over voting claim in 3,210 polling units in the state.
Halilu stressed further that, the forensic expert invited by the petitioner was not a data analyst, saying his analysis cannot be relied upon.
He added that Abiodun was duly elected by virtue of scoring the highest number of valid votes cast by the voters and declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying the Tribunal concur with it and has no reason whatsoever to tinker with the outcome of the March 9 governorship election in Ogun State.
The tribunal argued that the petition stands unproven and that it was incorrect to contend that the Abiodun who is the second respondent on the petition was not duly elected for the position of the governor of the state.
He said, “finally and in the light of everything said above, it is incorrect to contend that, the second respondent did not win the election by the majority of the recorded votes. In contrary, it is crystal clear he scored a total number of 231,670 votes as against 222,153 scored by the first petitioner.
“We filed a declaration and returned as shown in the exhibit P330 in order and it will remain. We are satisfied by the electoral provision of section 27 and 69 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended. We have no reason to tinker with the outcome of the March 9 governorship election in Ogun State. This petition is destined to fail, it fails and is hereby dismissed.”
Speaking on the judgement, the lead counsel to Adekunle Akinlade of APM, Barr. Isiaka Olagunju said the judgement was one step of the three steps of the petition.
Olagunju said his client would study the judgement and decide whether to go to Appeal Court.
But the lead counsel to the second respondent, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan said the victory was testimony of the hard work of the legal team of Prince Dapo Abiodun.
Osipitan said the respondent is always ready to defend his mandate at the Appeal Court if the need arises.
Meanwhile, there was massive jubilation and dancing at Isabo and spread to other parts of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The jubilant are supporters of Dapo Abiodun and members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who since earky morning surged into Isabo, waiting for the outcome of the petition.