The Oyo State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ibadan, on Tuesday dismissed the petition filed by the All Progressive Congress(APC) in the state on behalf of the immediate past governor of the state, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi, challenging the declaration of Sen. Kola Balogun as winner of the Oyo South senatorial district election held on February 23.
In a unanimous judgement delivered by Justice John Akpovi on behalf of the three-member panel, the tribunal held that APC and Ajimobi did not prove that the election did not conform with the provisions of the electoral law or prove that Balogun was not duly elected.
According to the tribunal, the law is trite and it is presumed that any result declared by INEC is regular except proved otherwise and the onus lies on the petitioner to prove this.
Akpovi held that all result sheets in contention were signed by the APC agents and allegations that they signed against their wish was untenable as they did not present any evidence that they were forced to sign and cannot now turn back to say the result they signed willingly is irregular, adding that this does not prove any irregularity in the results declared by INEC.
“The petitioner based his complaint on card reader reports and poor accreditation. But it is on note that INEC guidelines already made provisions for steps to take in such situations the card reader malfunctions of and this was adhered to. Consequently, the malfunction of card readers cannot be said to invalidate the vote results.
“The declared results span 363 polling units but the petitioner didn’t call credible witnesses to prove his allegations; a total of 46 witnesses were called, out of which the testimonies of 23 was expunged as heresay, the witnesses were not credible because they weren’t present at the polling units,” he said.
It further held that the petitioner failed to prove how the difference in margin of the vote result affected the victory of the petitoner’s candidate.
“The total number of votes declared by INEC for the winner was 105, 720 while the petitioner got 92, 218 votes. The difference is 13 502 votes. Assuming the petitioner proved the allegation of non- compliance, the disputed figure that would be affected is 11, 759, there will still be 1743 vote margin. The question that arises from that is, with 1743 vote difference, can he be said to have won? Even if the allegation was proved, the petitioner could not be said to have won being behind with 1743 votes.
“The petitioner did not prove that the allegation of irregularity affected the result of the election. All reliefs in the petition failed, the petition is dismissed and the election of Kola Balogun is upheld,” the tribunal ruled.
Earlier, the tribunal while ruling on outstanding applications had disqualified the oral testimonies of witnesses and expunged all oral testimonies outside the written address based on a ruling on an objection raised by the respondent to testimony of petitioner’s witnesses.
APC in the petition had asked the tribunal to declare the election invalid alleging corrupt practices, rigging, manipulation of election results and violence. The party also asked that the tribunal to declare that Balogun was not duly elected on the grounds that he was not elected by majority of lawful votes and consequently urged the tribunal to order a rerun election.