The gubernatorial election in Ogun State might have come but definitely not gone as the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and its candidate have taken the battle over the control of Oke-Mosan governor’s office before the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, which is the 3rd Respondent in the on-going case had, after the election declared Senator Ibikunle Amosun (1st Respondent) of the All Progressives Congress, APC (2nd Respondent) the winner and issued Certificate of Return having polled the highest number of valid votes, according the electoral umpire.
Like many elections in Nigeria, Isiaka and his party, being dissatisfied with the election and the return of Amosun as the governor, challenged the result of the election by filing a petition on the 30th of April, 2015.
The petition specifically challenged nine out of 20 local governments where the election was held. The nine local governments are Abeokuta South; Abeokuta North; Odeda, Ewekoro, Ifo, Obafemi Owode, Ado Odo/Ota, Sagamu and Remo North.
Before filing the petition, there were dramas as to claims and counter claims to the election result. While Isiaka held publicly that he won the election in 14 out of 20 local government areas of the state; Amosun and his party described the claim as a figment of his imagination.
The petition, which was accompanied by bundles of documents, was predicated upon nine grounds as contained in paragraph 9, pages 13 – 14 of the petition amongst which were that the election was marred by electoral malpractices, importation of voters from foreign location, misuse of Card Readers and Permanent Voters Cards, among others.
The petitioners also argued that the election was conducted in a manner that shows bias, nepotism and favouritism to the benefit of Amosun and his party; non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act; illegal and secret Polling Units and voting points; unlawful and illicit use of incident forms; voting without accreditation and that Amosun was not validly returned as the winner of the election.
The petition also sought for seven reliefs, the high point of which was for an order that the total number of lawful votes cast at the election were for the petitioners and that the tribunal should declare the 1st Petitioner, (Isiaka) as the winner and that INEC should be ordered to present Certificate of Return to him.
The reliefs read in part, “An order that the 1st respondent herein (Senator Ibikunle Amosun) was not duly elected and did not score the lawful majority votes cast at the April 11, 2015 gubernatorial election in Ogun State and ought not have been returned by the 3rd respondent.
“An order that the total number of lawful votes cast at the 11th April, 2015 governorship election in Ogun State were from the Petitioners and the 1st Petitioner ought to have been returned by the 3rd and 4th respondents.
“An order declaring the 1st Petitioner as the winner of 11th April 2015 governorship election in Ogun State having scored the highest number of lawful/valid votes of the total votes cast at the said election.
“An order compelling the 3rd and 4th respondents herein to present to the 1st Petitioner, Certificate of Return as the validly and lawfully elected Governor of Ogun State in April 11, 2015 Governorship election.”
Since the onus lies on the petitioners to prove their case, 4, 275 documents were tendered and admitted in evidence before the court, they were marked P1 – P4275. The documents included result sheets, i.e. forms EC8A series; EC8B series; EC8C series; EC8D and EC8E, data downloaded from card readers, 2015 manual for election officials and a report of inspection of electoral materials.
In proof of their petition during the trial, the petitioners called nine witnesses, including an INEC official marked as PW8 who was summoned to produce documents under a writ of Subpoena Duce Tecum and a star witness, Benjamin Ibikunle (PW9) while the 1st respondent who had earlier listed 28 witnesses called only four witness while the 2nd and 3rd Respondents who had also listed 11 and one witnesses respectively didn’t call any witness.
Chairman of the three man tribunal, Justice Henry Olusiyi had, while presenting the report of the pre-hearing session, advised Counsel to “call only witnesses that are necessary and tender documents that are necessary to prove their case.”
Speaking with journalists after closing its case, Counsel to Amosun, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) who sounded very confident explained that the petitioners have failed to prove their case by calling only seven witnesses for a case involving over 2,000 polling units and as such would amount to suicide mission by helping them prove their case by calling all the witnesses earlier listed.
Fagbemi said, “the little they have been able to bring to the fore, we have met, we do not want much more than they have alleged, so, it is going to be suicidal to call more witnesses where they have not.
“Don’t forget, we are talking about 3,000 polling units, going by the allegations which the petitioners have made in their petition and they have only succeeded in calling about seven, not that they can succeed on the seven but even if we take it that they have proved the seven units involved what is the total viz-a-viz over 2,000 units? I don’t think it will be wise to continue to waste the time of the Tribunal.”
Out of the nine local governments under contention, the petitioners only called seven witnesses, -asides the Subpoena witness and PW9 – each of whom only gave evidence on their polling units except one.
The first witness, Alhaji Waidan Folarin (PW1) was the polling agent at Borehole polling unit 12, Ota ward II, Ado Odo/Ota local government whose testimony was to the effect that several Permanent Voters Cards were not recognised in his unit and that INEC issued a circular that card reader is a sine qua non in the voting exercise.
While the second witness, Aliyu Musa (PW2) testified to the effect of ballot stuffing in his Idi Ota polling unit at Alapoti ward of the same local government, the third witness, Tosin Oyekan (PW3) who is the chairman of PDP in Odeda local government testifies that additional voting points were created in his local government which he referred to as illegal and rigging points.
PW4, Ademola Adejumo testified that in almost all the polling units he observed in Sagamu local government, manual voting were used in place of card readers while Rilwan Okunrounmu (PW5) of ward 12 in Abeokuta South local government testified that some thugs shouting ‘APC’ came to his unit and took away the ballot boxes.
Mrs Bunmi Awodein (PW6) from Oke Ola I polling unit of Remo North local government testified that she saw many voters of Northern extraction who were allowed to vote even when their voters cards were not recognised by the card readers because they didn’t register in the area, while PW7, Abiodun Balogun of Imagbon LG school, Isara in the same local government argued that ‘a permanent card belonging to a deceased man was used to vote’.
Of particular note during the trial was the testimony of PW9 who presented the report of inspection of electoral material as ordered by the tribunal but discredited the same report during the cross examination by counsel to INEC, Oluwaje Ogunnaike when he admitted that the report contained a lot of errors ‘but not substantial enough’ for the petition to be dismissed.
Not only did the PW9 tender the report of the inspection, he was also made to identify all documents that had been admitted and marked as exhibits but the counsel to the 1st respondent also argued that Ibikunle did the identification of the documents in sealed envelopes.
Fagbemi said in his final written addresses, “the vast majority of the documents which the witness claimed to have examined in the course of the inspection were purportedly identified by him in sealed envelopes so that how the witness who was not the person who tendered them in the first place was able to identify them inside sealed envelopes becomes apparent.
But notwithstanding the rigours of the cross examination which lasted for two days, Ibikunle maintained that the petition was still very valid and expect nothing from the tribunal except victory.
Also speaking after closing its case, lead counsel to the Petitioner, Adetunji Oyeyipo (SAN) also echoed the statement of hope of the witness saying it was as if the witness read his mind before making such statement.
He said, “the process has been OK, we can’t say in any way that we have been prevented from presenting our case, I believe the tribunal, has been fair in its handling of the case up to this point and I have no fear that the Tribunal will continue to be fair to all the parties.
“It appeared that the witness was reading my mind from the witness box because I share the same view with him, so far, we have put in substantial evidence which we believe to get judgment in our favour.”

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