By James Ogunnaike
THE governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the March 18 governorship election in Ogun State, Mr. Oladipupo Adebutu, yesterday, rejected the judgement of the election petitions tribunal, which affirmed Dapo Abiodun as the duly elected Governor of the state.
Adebutu described the verdict as unexpected, disheartening and a threat to Nigeria’s democracy.
The election petition had dismissed the PDP candidate’s petition challenging the victory of Governor Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the March 18 governorship election.
Adebutu, in a statement by the Director of Media, Ladi Adebutu Campaign Organisation, Afolabi Orekoya, said the judgement which was “based solely on funny technicalities failed to consider the substantial merits and evidence tendered during the trial.”
He said: “We firmly believe in the principles of democracy, transparency and the rule of law. It is with these principles in mind that we entered into the legal process to seek justice for the people of Ogun State whose mandate was stolen.
“Regrettably, the Tribunal chose to focus on mere technicalities and the use of English rather than engage in a thorough examination of the glaring evidence presented.
“We submitted substantial evidence that raised serious questions about the conduct of the election, even marked ballot papers and we are confident that a closer examination of this evidence would have revealed the true nature of the irregularities and discrepancies that occurred during the election.
“In the course of the trial, our legal team presented enough evidence that establishing non-compliance, voters’ harassment and intimidation leading to the disenfranchisement of over 49,000 voters which is higher than the margin of lead of 13,915 as “purportedly” declared by INEC; the ballot boxes snatching, over voting among many other electoral malpractices perpetuated by Mr Dapo Abiodun and his party, APC.
“We obtained duly Certified True Copies of documents from the electoral umpire, INEC, and paid for with official receipts to back our claims which proved all the content of our petition and justified our concerns over the election.
“We condemn unequivocally the judgement of the tribunal, consequently, we have mandated our legal team to appeal the judgement of the tribunal. We will not relent until due Justice is served.
Group hails verdict
Meanwhile, a Civil Society Organization, Advocacy for Peace and Good Governance, has commended the Tribunal for its verdict saying it is a victory for democracy.
The group, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Waheed Sulaimon, described the judgement as explicit without any ambiguity, saying it was a true reflection of what happened across Ogun State on March 18, 2023.
The group noted that the tribunal delivered its verdict based on the facts and evidence presented before it, as well as the credibility of the electoral process.
The group, therefore, urged all parties involved to accept the decision of the tribunal and join hands with Governor Abiodun, to work towards the development of the state.
It also called on all stakeholders in the Ogun State project to rally around the governor to make the Gateway State among the best in Nigeria in terms of economic prosperity, political stability and social cohesion.
The group also lauded Governor Abiodun for his commitment to good governance and efforts at ensuring the security of lives and property.