Oyo tribunal: INEC adopt final written addresses over Adelabu’s petition

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Adebayo Adelabu

Oyo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has admitted the final written addresses filed by Governor Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party, Adebayo Adelabu of the All Progressives Congress and the Independent National Electoral Commission in a petition challenging Makinde’s victory in the March 9 election.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Adelabu and his party, APC, are challenging the declaration of Makinde by INEC as the winner of the election.

Other respondents in the petition are the 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 said that the petitioners erroneously put the burden of proof on INEC whereas the responsibility of proof lies on the petitioners.

He 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.

Kehinde 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), said that the reliefs sought by the petitioners were faulty and evidences 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), 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), 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 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 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 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 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, called on his supporters to be calm and law-abiding, saying victory would come their way.