Ogun election tribunal: INEC closes case, says no witness against Adebutu
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday in Abeokuta ended its defence in the petition filed by Ladi Adebutu, the Ogun governorship candidate of the PDP.
In the petition against Gov. Dapo Abiodun at the election petition tribunal, marked EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023, PDP and Adebutu are challenging his victory based on alleged non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
Adebutu has alleged that voting was disrupted by thugs in more than 99 polling units, thereby disenfranchising over 40,000 voters from participating in the March 18 election.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that when the tribunal resumed on Wednesday, INEC opened its defence against Adebutu’s allegations, being the first respondent in the petition.
Its counsel, Olumide Ogidan, told the tribunal that the first respondent would rest its case on that of the petitioners.
“On behalf of the first respondent, we have examined the petition as well as the evidence led so far.
“My Lords, on this note, we will not be calling any witness, but we will rather rest our case on that of the petitioners,” he said.
Goddy Uche, representing the petitioners, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan, who appeared for Abiodun, and Mr Tayo Oyetibo, for the APC, did not oppose INEC’s application to close its case without calling any witness.
“It is their case and they are entitled to defend it the way they deemed fit,” Adebutu’s counsel, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said.
Meanwhile, Osipitan who is also a SAN urged the tribunal to give his client, the second respondent, till Friday to open his case.
Osipitan said Abiodun had just served a subpoena on a party, saying the concerned party would need time to process the documents requested.
The tribunal then adjourned the sitting till Friday to allow Abiodun open his case.
“We will meet on Friday for the second respondent to open his case,” Hamidu Kunaza, the Tribunal Chairman, stated.
NAN reports that, at the last sitting on Thursday, the petitioners through their counsel Uche had closed their case after calling 94 witnesses and tendering over 200,000 documents in evidence.
They called as witnesses voters and party agents from Sagamu, Ikenne, Remo North, Odogbolu, Ogun Waterside, Ijebu-Ode, Abeokuta South, Abeokuta North, Ado-Odo/Ota and other Local Government Areas (LGAs).
This was to enable them prove that there were disruptions.
The petitioners also subpoenaed two INEC ad-hoc staff, an official of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), a statistician and a forensic analyst to give evidence before the tribunal.
Adebutu also tendered certified true copies of INEC result sheets, voter registers, printouts from the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machines, incident forms, video evidence, forensic reports and other documents.
The court on Thursday had adjourned till Wednesday for INEC to open its defence against Adebutu’s allegations, being the first respondent in the petition.(NAN)