By Adeola Badru
THE Oyo State Governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Ibadan on Friday has reserved judgment in the election petition brought before it by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Adebayo Adelabu, on a day to be communicated to the parties involved.
The panel is headed by Honourable Justice Suraj Muhammadu with the assistance of Honourable Justice (Kadi) Musa Bazza and Honourable Justice Elizabeth Orji.
It would be recalled that Governor Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled 515,621 to defeat Mr Adelabu, who polled 357,982 in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state, while Makinde won in 28 local government areas of the state to emerge governor, while Adelabu won in five local government areas.
In a petition filed by Mr. Adelabu, dated March 29, 2019 with a suit number EPT/OY/Gov/01/2019, challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Seyi Makinde and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as first, second and third respondents, while Mr. Adelabu, APC as first and second petitioners respectively.
During the proceedings, the petitioners called a total number of 69 witnesses and tendered 4,166 documents which had been admitted as evidence.
On the other hand, the respondents too called evidence and tendered documents.
Upon the adoption of the final written addresses by the counsel on behalf of all the respective parties on Friday, the chairman of the tribunal, Honourable Justice Suraju Muhammad reserved the judgment in the petition which he said will be delivered on a day to be communicated to the parties.
He also expressed appreciation to the media for their objective report of proceedings so far during the over 60 minutes sitting.
Earlier, the counsel of all parties was given five minutes each to make their final addresses.
Counsel to the first respondent had urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for being grossly unmeritorious without any substance. He added that the petitioners have erroneously placed the burden of proof on the shoulders of the first respondent.
Counsel to the second respondent urged the tribunal to nullify the petition for non-compliance with the provision of the electoral act as amended while the counsel to the third respondent, Nathaniel Oke, SAN, called on the tribal to dismiss the petition to “dismiss the petitioners’ on the ground of inadequacy of evidence and lacking in merit.
Then, counsel to the first petitioner, Yusuf Ali, SAN, prayed the tribunal to hold the petition because it was meritorious and to also hold that you expressly endorse the reliefs of the petition.
Ali in furtherance of his adumbration said the petitioner has been able to show that there is “electoral infractions in 28 of the 33 local government areas” where Governorship election in the state.
He urged the tribunal to find merit in the petition and hold that what actually took place on March 9 election is a charade, saying “I pray your lordship to grant our reliefs.
Speaking with journalists after the court proceedings, Mr Adelabu who was personally present in court with his deputy governorship candidate in March 9 election, Mr Sunday Egunjobi, said the party is more united and expected a sound victory from the ruling.
In his words: “We have shown to the whole world that there were lots of infractions during the March 9 governorship election in the state and victory shall be ours and our party will come back to Adebayo Adelabu and my able deputy.”
“We have done all that is required of us to contest the gubernatorial election, and we’re the most the most popular candidate, party and party with the track record because people voted for us.”
Similarly, the assistant organising secretary for PDP in Oyo State, Mr Biodun Popoola said the party was very optimistic of a very good outcome in the judgment.
He said: “I am in court and with the presentation of our counsel, I am optimistic that we will be victorious because you don’t change what God has established.”