Tribunal: Ogun Assembly Speaker troubled as Court clears Ogundele's Petition on Merit - The People's Voice


Saturday, August 19, 2023

Tribunal: Ogun Assembly Speaker troubled as Court clears Ogundele's Petition on Merit

By Mercy James, Abeokuta

It was a trouble-like encounter for the speaker of the Ogun state House of Assembly, Olakunle Taiwo Oluomo, as Tribunal Chairman cleared that the petition brought against him by Okikiola Ogundele of the PDP was meritorious and cannot be dismissed during the adoption of the final written addresses on Thursday.

Ogundele has gone on to challenge the Speaker, Oluomo's victory at the election tribunal over election malpractices and irregularities, where he had established that the total accredited voters recorded on the result sheet (INEC Form EC8A) tendered by Oluomo during the cross examination session, and the figures on the BVAS machine did not tally, including the inability of the electoral umpire, INEC to comply with the principles of Electoral Act, 2022.

In his petition, Ogundele exposed how the results of about 153 polling units in Ifo Constituency 1 were manipulated to favour the speaker, while two other witnesses also testified to it and pleaded that his stolen mandate by Oluomo should be returned.

In the case, INEC was the 1st respondent, the Speaker, Oluomo was the 2nd respondent and All Progressive Congress (APC) was the 3rd respondent.

During the adoption of the final written addresses, Counsels to the three respondents (INEC, Oluomo and APC) aligned their argument that the election was conducted free and fair, and wanted the petition to be dismissed by the panel, which was countered by petitioner's counsel and discountenanced by the Tribunal Chairman.

In their addresses, counsels to the three respondents expressed that the petitioner has failed to substantiate its petition with facts, which will enable the court to grant its prayers.

Cunningly, APC and Oluomo counsels conspired that the petition was dead on arrival, stating that the calling of two witnesses to testify to malpractices in 153 polling units challenged by the petitioner was a mere ceremony, and urged the panel to dismiss the petition in its entirety with a charge of 10million naira.

Adopting its final address, the petitioner's counsel urged the panel to grant all its prayers and discountenance the motions and applications by all respondents to dismiss the petition. 

He stressed further that what determines the success of a case is the pleadings and evidence laid before the Tribunal, which petitioner has proven and subtantiated, and thereby described the argument to dismiss the case as "invalid argument".

He cleared that as long as the petition contained the details of the election malpractices with verifiable evidence, it is not the quantity of witnesses that matters, but the quality of the witnesses and proofs.

He further quoted Section 137 of the Election Act 2022 as amended thus:

"It shall not be necessary for a party who alleges non-compliance with the provisions of this Act for the conduct of elections to call oral evidence if originals or certified true copies manifestly disclose the non-compliance alleged.”

After listening to all the counsels, the Chairman of the Tribunal expressed that it is the prerogative of the panel to determine if a petition lacks merit or not. He added that the panel has not found any jurisdiction to dismiss the petition on lack of merit, which is why it has gotten to the stage of final addresses.

The Chairman recounted the stages of the petition from filling, pre-hearing, scheduling, trial conference and cross examination before the final addresses, and explained that the petition would have long been dismissed if it lacks merit.

He further said that the final judgement would be reserved upon the adoption and submission of the final addresses in line with the principles of law.

The Chairman of the panel later adjourned for final judgement on the date will be communicated across to the counsels.

This left Oluomo troubled as he rushed out of the court room, ignored the party members and supporters that came for solidarity, and zoomed off the court premises in his car amid tight security cover.

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