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Ogun gov’ship tribunal quashes Adebutu’s reply on vote buying

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State, yesterday struck out a reply filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Ladi Adebu-tu,…

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State, yesterday struck out a reply filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Ladi Adebu-tu, on alleged vote buying during the March 18 governorship election in the state.

Adebutu, in the petition marked EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023, is challenging the victory of Governor Dapo Abiodun based on alleged non-compliance with the Electoral Act and corrupt practices during the election.

The three-man panel led by Justice Hamidu Kunaza ruled on one of the preliminary applications during its pre-hearing sitting on Monday.

Lead counsel to the second respondent (Abiodun), Wole Olanipekun (SAN), had filed an application challenging the petitioner’s reply dated May 22, 2023,

bothering on allegations of vote buying by the governor during the election.

The governor’s legal team raised the issue of vote buying against Adebutu and the PDP in the reply to the original petition, but the petitioner’s counsel in the response in turn accused the second respondent (Abiodun) of the same allegation of financial in-ducement of voters during the election.

A member of Abiodun’s legal team, Prof Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), who argued the appli-cation before the tribunal, said the petitioner had surreptitiously introduced vote buying as a new issue and fact while responding to the second respondent’s reply.

He said the introduction of a new issue/fact in the reply was against Paragraph 16 1A of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act.

Osipitan further said that some paragraphs in the petitioner’s reply were offensive and prayed the tribunal to strike it out for being incompetent.

But counsel to Adebutu, Goddy Uche (SAN), asked the tribunal to reject the second respondent’s application for lacking in merit, saying it was used as a delay tactic on the petition.

Uche said the second respondent in some paragraphs in the reply made an allegation of financial inducement of voters by Adebutu during the March 18 governorship elec-tion, arguing that the petitioner merely responded to the opponent’s accusations as contained in the reply to the original petition.

He noted that the petitioner didn’t raise the issue of vote buying in the petition ab initio.

In its unanimous ruling read by the Chairman, Justice Hamidu Kunaza, the tribunal struck out the petitioner’s reply dated May 22, 2023.

The tribunal held that the petitioner’s reply if allowed would constitute injustice as the second respondent didn’t have opportunity to respond to the petitioner’s reply.

The panel held that a reply should not be a medium to raise a new issue which was not raised in the petition.

The case was adjourned to June 22, 2023.

 

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