The governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade said his rival, Gov Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State had admitted before the tribunal that his election was not free and fair by telling the tribunal to deduct votes.
Akinlade urged the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Isabo, Abeokuta to invalidate the election of Gov Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and declare him winner, alleging overvoting and gross misconduct.
The former lawmaker also prayed the tribunal to disqualify Abiodun for providing “contradictory and false information” in the Form CF001 he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for his senatorial election in 2015 and the one submitted to the commission for his governorship election in 2019.
Akinlade spoke through his counsel, Mamman Usman (SAN), as the tribunal resumed on Monday for the adoption of final addresses by the petitioners and the respondents.
Earlier, counsel to Abiodun, Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) had urged the tribunal to dismiss Akinlade’s petition, saying it was dead on arrival.
Osipitan said Akinlade was able to call only 34 witnesses from 34 polling units out of the over 122 polling unit results he was contesting.
According to Osipitan, even if all the 2,394 votes from the 34 polling units were cancelled by the tribunal as prayed by Akinlade, Abiodun would still be leading as he would have 238,389 votes, while Akinlade would have 219,759 votes, adding that the allegation of overvoting as claimed by the 34 witnesses could not invalidate the outcome of the election.
But counsel to Akinlade, Usman said Akinlade had proven his case by tendering all necessary evidences before the tribunal and he had shown that INEC awarded unlawful votes to parties during the March 9 election in Ogun State.
Usman also added that the allegations of overvoting raised by the petitioners were never contradicted by the respondents, adding that the tribunal had enough evidence before it.
Akinlade had in his petition asked the tribunal to cancel all the votes in all the polling units where there were overvoting, according to the Electoral Act.
In a document before the tribunal, as sighted by our correspondent, it was gathered that Abiodun had earlier agreed to part with 25,302 votes, while asking the tribunal to also remove 15,905 from Akinlade’s votes across the 20 local governments of the state.
This, according to Abiodun, would make the result of the March 9 governorship election 216,302 and 206,248 for the APC and APM respectively.
But Akinlade in his reply said cancellation of votes in all the polling units where overvoting occurred was the position of the law.
This, if done, he said would make him the winner. He prayed the tribunal to deduct 121,821 from Abiodun’s votes and 58,955 votes from his (Akinlade’s) votes, a figure he claimed to have arrived at when he removed votes of polling units where overvoting took place across the state.
This, according to Akinlade, would translate to him having 163,198 votes and Abiodun having 119,849 as against the 221,153 and 241,670 votes declared by INEC for the APM and APC respectively.
He also said he would have scored 25% or more of valid votes across the state to emerge winner of the election, stressing that Abiodun has already admitted the election that returned him as governor was marred with irregularities by asking the tribunal to deduct from his own votes.
On the allegation of Abiodun providing false information in Exhibit P331 and P331A which are INEC Forms CF001 he submitted for his senatorial election in 2015 and the one submitted for his 2019 governorship race, Osipitan argued that anything that had to do with Form CF001 was a preelection matter that could not be entertained by the tribunal.
He added that different courts have ruled over similar case in favour of Abiodun, saying Akinlade ought to have gone to court 14 days after the submission of the documents to INEC and not after the election.
Osipitan maintained that Abiodun only said he attended the University of Ife, but never claimed to have graduated from the university, asserting that “attendance of a university is not the same as graduation.”
But Usman told the tribunal that his colleague, Osipitan displayed ignorance due to lack of knowledge of Section 131(1)(E), which is a 2015 amended version of the Electoral Law 2010.
According to Usman, “The amendment provides an additional ground for an Election Petition, which is that the person whose election is being questioned submitted to INEC, an affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature to support his qualification for the election.”
He spoke further that the petitioners were not interested in Abiodun’s educational qualification, but they were challenging the contradiction and inconsistency in his 2015 and 2019 INEC Forms CF001, emphasising that the amended electoral act has shown that issues bordering on falsehood “is not a preelection matter.”
He said if the tribunal juxtaposed the two forms, it would discover that Abiodun presented false information to INEC to aid his election, adding that Form CF001 is a certificate.
Usman added that the 2015 Form CF001 was still in existence, not withdrawn by Abiodun as at 2019 when he was contesting to be a governor.
Speaking further, he said Abiodun having sworn to an oath before the court, committed perjury, urging the tribunal “not only to disqualify him, but to also invalidate his election and declare Akinlade the winner, as he (Abiodun) must not be allowed to benefit from illegality.”
Meanwhile, the Justice Yusuf Halilu-led tribunal has reserved judgement.
The tribunal said it would serve all parties two days notice prior to the day of judgement.
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