Friday 24 November 2023

Ogun: Appeal Court affirms Abiodun’s election … Dismisses Adebutu's appeal


The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Friday affirmed the election of Governor Dapo Abiodun of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the March 18, poll, in Ogun State.

In a majority judgement  delivered by the duo of Justices J.S.  Ikyegh and  Muhammed Mustapha, the appellate court dismissed the appeal brought before it by the governorship candidate of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), in the state, Hon. Ladi Adebutu.

The court held that the appeal lacked merit as it found no substance in it and subsequently dismissed it, affirming the earlier decision of the Tribunal without costs.

Recall that the Ogun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta had on September 30, 2023, upheld Abiodun's declaration as the winner of the March 18, governorship election.

Adebutu, dissatisfied, had filed an appeal at the appellate court, challenging the judgment of the election petition tribunal. 

But his Appeal was dismissed by the appellate court in a majority decision of 2 to 1. Of significance are the conclusions of the court that it is a petitioner who bears responsibility to prove that an election was marred by corrupt practices, and that Appellants did not so prove.

Court holds further that Appellants did not prove the allegation of certificate forgery against Governor Abiodun and noted that the Tribunal did not believe the evidence of certain witnesses because of their demeanours and because of the chorused nature of their testimony.

Maintaining that appellate courts generally do not interfere with such assessments, it held that the assessment of the Tribunal is undisturbed. 

While upholding the expunging of the evidence of the forensic experts, the court held that there is a huge crater in the petition of the appellants, making same castrated, sterile, and with no legs to stand on.

Court followed the principle that when a decision is ultimately correct, it is immaterial that some reasons may have been applied since the appellate courts concern themselves with the conclusions mainly. 

On the issue of disenfranchisement raised by the appellant, the court held that it was the duty of Appellants to prove disenfranchisement by calling voters who could vote but were disenfranchised, adding that in this petition rather, the Appelants did not call any disenfranchised voter. That instead, the Appellants called persons who truly voted.

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