The Oyo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, on Monday, struck out the petitions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, challenging the election of Engr. Seyi Makinde as the governor of Oyo State.
Adelabu and APC, who were the first and second petitioners respectively prayed the tribunal to declare Adelabu as the winner of the March 9 governorship election, claiming he scored the majority of lawful votes cast in the election.
The petitioners also prayed the Tribunal to nullify the declaration of Makinde as governor by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying there were irregularities in the election.
The petitioners contested the results of election in four local governments out of 33 local government areas as well as 1426 polling units out of 4383 polling units and 27 wards out of 351 wards in the state.
The petitioners had in the course of the trial, called 69 witnesses and tendered 4164 exhibits.
However, the three-man tribunal in a unanimous judgment delivered by its chairman, Justice Sirajo Muhammed, upheld the election of Makinde, as the winner of the election.
The tribunal however nullified the result of the election in unit 003, ward 9 of Ido local government deducting a total of 128 votes from the votes cast dor PDP and APC in the areas affected.
The tribunal held that the first and second petitioners failed to prove the allegations of corrupt practices, over voting, improper accreditation, inaccurate ballot counting and substantial non-compliance with the 2010 electoral act as amended in their petitions
“The petitioners did not provide alternative scores to prove they got the majority of lawful votes.The evidences of those who are at the polling units are evidences of eyewitnesses. Out of 69 witnesses, 37 are polling units agents and out of the remaining 32 witnesses, 27 are ward agents which means their evidences are hearsays .
“The evidences required is not the one of hearsays but that of eye witnesses who are on ground.The petitioners must prove their allegations and tender documents to prove that there were irregularities during the election,” Muhammed said.
On the issue of over-voting, the tribunal said the petitioners only presented 37 polling units agents out of 1,426 polling units where illegalities and irregularities were alleged, adding that the failure of the petitioners to present polling units agents in the remaining polling units means “the evidences of 1389 polling units are deemed abandoned.
The tribunal further held that the petitioners failed to tender the necessary documents to justify the allegations of over-voting and disenfranchisement of voters and also failed to prove how the allegations affected them or the result of the election.
The tribunal also averred that “the result of a polling unit can only be cancelled if the number of votes casted is more than the number of accredited voters or the number of registered voters, not when the number of votes casted is less than the number of accredited voters or the number of registered voters. There is no law that compels all accredited voters to vote in an election and the respondents cannot be blamed or held responsible for the voter’s infraction.
“It is the duty of the petitioners to tender exhibits and call witnesses in all the polling units being contested. The petitioners are supposed to tender the statement of results, the voters register and complete card reader report.
“Although the petitioners captured the voter register in their petitions but failure of the petitioners to present these documents has robbed them of evidence.”
According to the tribunal, the petitioners were not able to prove the allegations of corrupt practices and substantial non-compliance with the 2010 electoral act as amended beyond reasonable doubt.
“There is no singular evidence before us that the first and second respondent engaged in corrupt practices during the election.”
The tribunal however nullified the result of the election in unit 003, ward 9 of Ido local government because the returning officer presented two different results with different figures, one signed and the other unsigned. After the result of the unit was nullified, the tribunal said 68 votes was deducted from the APC while 60 votes was deducted from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This leaves APC with a total of 357, 914 votes and the PDP with 515,561 votes.
The tribunal also noted that even if the results of the polling units being contested by the APC were nullified, 2868 votes would be deducted from the APC while 5302 would be deducted from the PDP. It would still leave both parties with the following votes; APC 355,114, PDP 510,319, which will give the PDP a 155, 255 margin of victory.
The tribunal resolved all the issues in the petition in favour of the respondents and awarded a cost 200,000 each in favour of the respondents.
Reacting, one of the counsels to the petitioners, Akinola Oladeji, said they will study the judgment before taking a decision.