By Sunmola Olowookere
The Ondo State Elections Petition Tribunal has fixed April this year to deliver its judgement over the winner of the October 10, 2020 gubernatorial election in the State .
The Elections Petition Tribunal Presiding Judge, Justice Abubakar Umar stated this yesterday after the adoption of written addresses by counsel to the parties.
Though, no specific date has been fixed, the judge promised that the exact date would be communicated to parties in the same month.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had on October 11, 2020 declared Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa winner of the election with 292, 830 votes to defeat his closest rival, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, of the PDP with 195, 791 votes.
Not satisfied with the declaration, Jegede and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party on October 30, 2020 approached the elections tribunal, challenging the victory of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
Making his submission before the tribunal, lead counsel of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Charles Edosomwan, SAN, said the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Eyitayo Jegede and his party, PDP while presenting their case, abandoned their grounds of petition.
He said that his client, INEC, brought motion filed on pre hearing session report seeking five prayers and informed the tribunal that they also filed reply to the response of the petitioner.
He told the tribunal that the petitioners tried to build a castle on the issue of sponsorship but failed to make a case on the election before the tribunal.
He concluded that the petitioners failed to address issues raised in their petition before the tribunal, saying that they offered no evidence in proving issues raised.
He told the tribunal that the issues were abandoned and urged the tribunal to grant the release sought by the INEC to dismiss the petition of the petitioner.
APC’s lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, also filed motions and final written addresses before the tribunal.
While adopting the motions and final written addresses as parts of his argument, he said that the petitioners were poke nosing into affairs that did not concern them.
He argued further that the grouse of the petitioner, Eyitayo Jegede as attested to by him when he testified before the tribunal that the sponsorship of the Governor and his Deputy was defective, was a party matter and none of his business.
He maintained that the sole grouse put forward by Jegede was not a matter for the tribunal as it was a pre-election matter.
While making reference to section 183 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, he said that Mala Buni would have been impeached had he committed an infraction against the section of the law.
He also argued that the petitioners did not join Mala Buni in the suit despite making several references to him in the petition. While citing the case of Galash and Bulama 2004, he urged the court to dismiss the petition.
Also, Akin Olujimi, SAN, the lead counsel to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his Deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa aligned himself with the submissions of the first two respondents’ counsel.
He argued that the petitioners embarked on inconsistency of pleading which was forbidden by law.
While stating that the petitioners in paragraph 12 of their petition clearly admitted the sponsorship of the governor and his deputy, he urged the tribunal to dismiss the petitioners’ case.
While replying, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN said the case of the petitioner was straight forward and founded on section 138, sub section 1a of the electoral act.
He argued that the sponsorship of the Governor and his Deputy were defective and void.