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Ogun Tribunal: Abiodun’s witness testifies to election disruption as gov opens defence

Governor Dapo Abiodun has opened his defence in the petition filed against him by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Ladi Adebutu, before the Election…

Governor Dapo Abiodun has opened his defence in the petition filed against him by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Ladi Adebutu, before the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
PDP and Adebutu in the petition marked, EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023 are challenging the victory of Governor Dapo Abiodun based on alleged non-compliance to the Electoral Act and corrupt practices during the election.
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 polls.
Adebutu had closed his after calling 94 witnesses and tendered over 200,000 documents in evidence.
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), being the first respondent, had also opened and closed its defence on Wednesday without calling any witness.
When the tribunal resumed sitting on Friday, Abiodun through its counsel, Prof Taiwo Osipitan, SAN, opened his defence in the petition.
The witness, Jimoh Gbadebo, who testified in the defence, admitted disruption of the March 18 election in seven out of 14 polling units in Ward 6, Sagamu, Sagamu Local Government Area of the State.
Gbadebo, who is the Ward Collation Agent for APC, mentioned the affected polling units as Units 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 11 and 12, all in Sagamu.
The witness said masked political thugs, after about four hours into the election, stormed the polling unit and disrupted the exercise by destroying the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), ballot boxes and papers.
According to him, the same group of thugs disrupted elections in the seven units by moving from one place to another.
He said due to the disruption of the election, the INEC ward Collation officer recorded zero for all parties in the election.
“I can’t recognise them (thugs). When they came, they were shouting ‘No BIVAS, No BIVAS’.
“The polling units were not far from each other. Those who came disrupted the exercise from one polling unit to another.
“They destroyed ballot boxes, papers, BIVAS machines and other electoral materials. Everyone ran away, I ran away too. I didn’t say the election was disrupted by PDP members or by anyone sharing money,” Gbadebo said.
Meanwhile, an official of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) from Abeokuta office, Fasasi Sarafa, tendered a certified true copy of Abiodun’s result at the tribunal.
An official of the examination body from Lagos, Olufemi Olaleye, on July 20, had appeared before the tribunal on a subpoena.
Olaleye, who was supposed to bring a copy of Abiodun’s certificate as requested by the court, said he was not with the certificate.
He told the tribunal he did not bring the requested certificate “because the council does not keep duplicates of collected WAEC certificates.”
Olaleye stated that to confirm whether or not somebody took part in the examination, “the original certificate given to the candidate will be forwarded to WAEC” for verification.
However, on Friday another official of the examination council from Abeokuta office, Sarafa, appeared at the tribunal to tender what he called a certified true copy of Abiodun’s WAEC result.
Fasasi said he was at the tribunal to represent WAEC based on a subpoena issued on the council’s Lagos headquarters.
The result copy was admitted by the tribunal as RA3 after which the WAEC official was discharged.
While the respondents did not object to the document, counsel to the petitioners, Gordy Uche, raised an objection, saying the would reserve details till final addresses.
“We have a serious objection. Looking on the face of it, this does not look like WAEC result,” Uche stated.
The tribunal adjourned till Monday for the continuation of Abiodun’s defence.

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