The legal battle between Ladi Adebutu and the incumbent Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, took a significant turn as the Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal admitted crucial pieces of evidence.
These exhibits shed light on alleged electoral irregularities and misconduct that have sparked discontent in the aftermath of the 18th March elections.
The tribunal admitted an array of documents, including an account statement of petitioner Ladi Adebutu, a report detailing the production of 200,000 top-up ATM cards, and a letter of authorization permitting the opening of a Zenith bank account for the purpose of loading the aforementioned cards with N10,000 each. Alongside these documents was a visual representation showcasing a sample of the preloaded cards.
These pieces of evidence were presented to the court by a subpoenaed staff member of Zenith Bank PLC, Celestina Appeal. Following her presentation, she was promptly discharged from the court proceedings.
It is worth recalling that Dapo Abiodun emerged victorious in the March election, securing a win with a margin of 13,915 votes. However, Ladi Adebutu and his party, dissatisfied with the election outcome, initiated legal proceedings against Abiodun, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In their petition, Adebutu alleged instances of corrupt practices, over-voting, and non-compliance with the margin of lead principle stipulated in the Electoral Act. Additionally, Adebutu claimed that the elections were marred by disruptions caused by thugs in more than 99 polling units, resulting in the disenfranchisement of over 40,000 voters.
During the latest tribunal session, the electoral body, INEC, surprisingly concluded its case without calling any witnesses. In contrast, the first respondent, Governor Abiodun, led by his counsel Taiwo Osipitan, summoned three witnesses to testify.
One of the witnesses, Odesanya Olalekan, shared his account of disruption at polling unit 002, Oke Eri, Wesley Primary School in Ijebu North East Local Government. Olalekan alleged that chaos ensued as voters vied for the preloaded ATM cards being distributed by unidentified individuals, whom he speculated might be affiliated with the PDP. He noted that the ensuing turmoil prematurely halted the election process, preventing any official result announcements.
However, under cross-examination by the petitioner’s counsel, Uche, Olalekan later admitted that while the election did conclude at his polling unit, it was subsequently annulled due to over-voting.
As the proceedings unfolded, Counsel to the petitioner, Uche, expressed surprise at the second respondent’s request for an adjournment after presenting only three witnesses. While the legal battle continues, both sides anticipate that the tribunal will soon reach a conclusion, allowing for a comprehensive judgment to be issued.
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