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Adebutu rejects Ogun tribunal verdict, vows to appeal

The Governorship Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in Ogun State, Ladi Adebutu, on Monday, rejected the verdict of the election tribunal, dismissing his petition…

The Governorship Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in Ogun State, Ladi Adebutu, on Monday, rejected the verdict of the election tribunal, dismissing his petition filed against Governor Dapo Abiodun.

He described the ruling as disheartening and a big threat to democracy.

The tribunal, in a judgement which lasted more than 11 hours on Saturday, dismissed the petition, saying it lacked merit.

Daily Trust reports that INEC had declared Abiodun winner after polling 276,298 votes, while Adebutu scored 262,383 and Biyi Otegbeye of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) came distant third with 94,754 votes.

But, PDP and Adebutu dragged Abiodun and APC before the tribunal, alleging that the governor did not win the majority of votes cast during the March 18 governorship election.

PDP and Adebutu in the petition marked, EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023 accused the INECof non-compliance to the Electoral Act and corrupt practices during the election.

The petitioners also alleged that elections were disrupted by thugs in over 99 polling units, disenfranchising over 40,000 voters from participating in the election.

Adebutu sought an order of the court to declare him as the winner of the election.

He also prayed the court to order the INEC to conduct fresh election in 99 polling units in 41 wards which cut across 16 Local government areas of the State where elections were either not held and/or cancelled due to disruption and over-voting.

But the judges held that the petitioners failed to prove allegations of non-compliance, overvoting, disenfranchisement of voters, non-qualification of second respondent (Abiodun) and corrupt practices during the polls, beyond reasonable doubt.

Reacting on Monday, Adebutu, through his Spokesman, Afolabi Orekoya, expressed concern that the judgment which “was based solely on funny technicalities failed to consider the substantial merits and evidence tendered during the trial.”

He said he had mandated his legal team to appeal the judgement of the tribunal, saying “We will not relent until due Justice is served.”

Adebutu said, “We firmly believe in the principles of democracy, transparency, and the rule of law. It is with these principles in mind that we entered into the legal process to seek justice for the people of Ogun State whose mandate was stolen. Our commitment to this course remains unwavering, and we will exhaust all available legal avenues to ensure that the will of the people is upheld, justice prevails and the mandate is retrieved.

“Regrettably, the Tribunal chose to focus on mere technicalities and the use of English rather than engage in a thorough examination of the glaring evidence presented. We submitted substantial evidence that raised serious questions about the conduct of the election, even marked ballot papers and we are confident that a closer examination of this evidence would have revealed the true nature of the irregularities and discrepancies that occurred during the election.

“In the course of the trial, our legal team presented enough evidence that establishing non-compliance, voters’ harassment and intimidation leading to the disenfranchisement of over 49,000 voters which is higher than the margin of lead of 13,915 as “purportedly” declared by INEC; the ballot boxes snatching, over voting among many other electoral malpractices perpetuated by Mr Dapo Abiodun and his party, APC.

“We obtained duly Certified True Copies of documents from the electoral umpire, INEC, and paid for with official receipts to back our claims which proved all the content of our petition and justified our concerns over the election.

“We condemn unequivocally the judgement of the tribunal, consequently, we have mandated our legal team to appeal the judgement of the tribunal. We will not relent until due Justice is served.

“With what was displayed at the tribunal on Saturday 30th, September, 2023, it is worrisome that the court may no longer be the hope of a common man who may seek redress through the court shortly if not curtailed.”

Adebutu assured the people of Ogun State that “we will not be deterred by this setback.”

He added that “We will continue to fight for the rights and aspirations of our supporters and the citizens of our dear State. Our determination to see justice served will not be shaken by this judgment, and we will take this matter to the appellate courts to seek a more equitable and just outcome.

“We extend our gratitude to our supporters across the State and beyond, who have shown immense resilience and unwavering faith in our cause. We urge them to remain steadfast as we continue this legal battle. We believe that the truth will ultimately prevail, and the will of the people will be acknowledged.”

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