The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday, August 2 2023.
Opened and closed its defence in the petition filed by the Ogun State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ladi Adebutu, against Governor Dapo Abiodun at the election petition tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, the state capital.
PDP and Adebutu, in the petition marked EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023, are challenging the victory of Abiodun based on alleged non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
In his petition, Adebutu alleged that elections were disrupted by thugs in over 99 polling units, disenfranchising over 40,000 voters from participating in the March 18 election.
The petitioners, through their counsel, Chris Uche, closed their case last Thursday after calling 94 witnesses and tendering over 200,000 documents in evidence.
The petitioners 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 others, to prove that there were disruptions.
The petitioner also subpoenaed two INEC ad-hoc staff, an official of the West African Examination 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 (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.
However, as the election court resumed today, INEC closed its case without calling any witnesses.
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INEC’s 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,” Ogidan said while applying to close INEC’s case.
Gordy Uche, representing the petitioners; Prof Taiwo Osipitan, who appeared for Abiodun and Tayo Oyetibo of the All Progressives Congress (APC), did not oppose INEC’s application to close its case without calling any witnesses.
“It is their case and they are entitled to defend it the way they deemed fit,” Adebutu’s counsel said.
Meanwhile, Osipitan urged the tribunal to give the second respondent (Abiodun) till Friday to open his case instead of Thursday.
Osipitan said the second respondent had just served a subpoena on a party, saying the concerned party would need time to process the documents requested.
Meanwhile, the tribunal adjourned the sitting till Friday to allow Abiodun to open his case.
“We meet on Friday for the second respondent to open his case,” Hamidu Kunaza, the tribunal Chairman stated.