By Adesoji OMOSEBI
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ibadan has
upheld the election that brought in the Governor Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as duly elected in March 2019 governorship election.
Adebayo Adelabu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had filed a petition against Makinde in the March 9 governorship election in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Adelabu and his party APC challenged the declaration of Makinde by INEC as the winner of March 9 governorship election in Oyo State.
Makinde polled 515,621 votes to defeat his closest rival, Adelabu who had 357,982 votes while PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are also respondents.
The petitioners said that Makinde was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes, adding that election was marred by over voting and failure to comply with the provision of Electoral Act.
Adelabu, therefore, prayed the tribunal to declare him the winner of the election, adding that he scored the highest number of lawful votes or alternatively, the tribunal should nullify the election and order a re-run.
The Chairman of the tribunal three-man tribunal, Justice Muhammed Sirajo who delivered the unanimous judgment said the testimonies of the ward and local government agents, called by the petitioners could, not be relied on.
According to the tribunal, the agents were not speaking the truth but and only relied on what they were been told by the polling units agents
He said that 32 pieces of evidence, out of the 69 witnesses called by the petitioners were hearsay because the petitioners were ward and local government collation agents while the remaining 37 were polling unit agents.
Sirajo said that the petitioners called 69 witnesses and tendered 4,164 exhibits while the respondents called 15 witnesses, adding that said the testimony of an eye witness must come from the polling units agents who witnessed all that happened from the beginning to the end during the election.
The tribunal said that the petitioners also failed to tender necessary documents that would assist members of the tribunal in proving ballot paper accounting.
He said that it was not only the responsibilities of petitioners to tender documents but also to prove that the alleged irregularities in the election substantially affected the outcome of the election.
Sirajo said that the petitioners failed to prove that the respondents were not validly elected by a majority of lawful votes.
“The petitioner failed to prove the allegation of non-compliance, non-accreditation, over voting and corrupt practices that would warrant the tribunal to nullify the election,“ he said.
Sirajo, who said that the petition lacked merit and stood dismissed, awarded N200, 000 costs against the petitioners.
In an interview, the counsel to the petitioners, Mr Akin Oladeji, said they would decide on the next line of action after studying the judgment