By Adeola Badru
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ibadan will today (Monday) decide who actually won the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Oyo State between Governor Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Bayo Adelabu.
Not satisfied with the outcome of the governorship election after studying results in units, wards and local government areas, Adelabu had gone to court to challenge Makinde’s victory, after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced him the winner of the election.
After many weeks of legal fireworks, the governorship election petition tribunal recently admitted the final written addresses filed by Makinde, Adelabu, PDP and INEC.
Adopting his final written address, the counsel to INEC, Akinolu Kehinde (SAN), urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for being grossly unmeritorious and lacking in substance.
Kehinde had said that the petitioners erroneously put the burden of proof on INEC whereas the responsibility of proof lies on the petitioners.
He had said that the petitioners complained of irregularities in 1,334 polling units and only called 38 polling unit agents out of which majority of them confirmed that the election conducted by INEC complied strictly with the Electoral Act.
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Kehinde also said that it was the responsibility of the petitioners to bring at least one witness from the 1,334 polling units, they complained about and urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
Makinde’s counsel, Dr Omyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), had said that the reliefs sought by the petitioners were faulty and evidence of the other witnesses not called amount to hearsay and urged the court to dismiss the petition.
Adopting his final written address, counsel to PDP, Nathaniel Oke (SAN), had urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the ground of inadequacy of evidence and for lacking in merit.
But the counsel to Adelabu and APC, Yusuf Alli (SAN), had urged the court to hold that the petition was meritorious and that other witness not called have their statement properly laid before the tribunal.
Alli had said that under the law the number of witnesses called cannot override what had been properly laid before the tribunal.
According to him, cases were not won on the quantum of witnesses called but on the quality of testimony of the witnesses called, adding that the testimony of petitioners’ witness number 62 (PW62) speaks volume.
Alli had said that there were massive electoral infractions in 28 out of the 33 Local Government Areas called and a document spoke for itself after being adopted.
He had said that a certified true copy of a document could be tendered by anybody and not only the maker, urging the tribunal to find merit in it.
The three-man panel of the tribunal led by Justice Sirajo Muhammed had praised the counsels for their cooperation throughout the proceedings, adding that a judgment date would be communicated to them.
In an interview with newsmen, Adelabu, who was present at the tribunal, had called on his supporters to be calm and law-abiding, saying victory would come their way.