The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Oyo State yesterday affirmed the April 11 victory of the state governor, Abiola Ajimobi.
Former governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, who contested on the platform of the Accord, challenged the validity of Ajimobi’s victory on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) before the tribunal. He joined the APC, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the petition.
The INEC had returned Ajimobi winner of the poll. According to INEC, Ajimobi polled 327,310 votes to emerge the winner, while Ladoja, came second by scoring 254,520 votes. The Justice Mohammed Mayaki-led tribunal resolved all issues in the petition, such as allegations of violence, falsification of results, bias of electoral officers, no accreditation and non-voting in favour of Ajimobi.
The tribunal also said the report of the inspection of materials used by INEC in the conduct of the gubernatorial poll in the state, presented by the principal witness of the petitioner, Mr. Bimbo Adepoju, could not be relied on by the tribunal to form its judgment, saying the principal witness is a farmer, dealing with arable crops.
It held that a farmer is not an expert that could analyse the results of election. It further held that Adepoju said during cross-examination that he participated in the campaign of Ladoja, voted for him and wanted him to be declared winner of the poll.
This, the panel said, made Adepoju unqualified to present such reports.
In the unanimous judgment read by Justice Mayaki, the tribunal held that the petitioner failed to prove any of the allegations beyond reasonable doubt, adding that many of the witnesses called by the petitioner contradicted themselves when they alleged that election did not hold in many polling units and later admitted that they were accredited and voted on election day.
The tribunal also struck out the name of the third respondent in the petition, Dr. Oluwatoyin Akeju, who is the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for the state from the list of respondent, saying he could not be sued in his personal capacity but official capacity.
The judgment attracted jubilation galore among the supporters of APC that were in the vicinity of the venue of the judgment.