February 27, 2024

Supreme Court Reserves Judgment on Adebutu’s Appeal in Ogun state

 

 

The Supreme Court has reserved judgment on an appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Ladi Adebutu, to challenge the outcome of the governorship election in Ogun State on March 18, 2023.

 

The PDP contested and was re-elected on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared that Abiodun of the APC polled 276,298 votes to defeat his closest rival, Adebutu of the PDP, who garnered 262,383 votes.

 

Adebutu argued that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, and that over 40,000 voters from his strongholds were disenfranchised due to violence. He claimed that he secured the highest number of valid votes cast at the election and should have been declared the winner by INEC. However, Adebutu’s petition was dismissed by the Justice Hamidu Kunaza-led three-man tribunal, which affirmed Abiodun as the bona fide winner of the contest.

 

The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the tribunal in a split judgement of two to three. The appellate court found no reason to dislodge the judgement of the tribunal, but in her minority verdict, Justice Jane Inyang directed INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return it issued to Abiodun and conduct a fresh election within 90 days. Governor Abiodun lodged a cross-appeal to set aside the minority verdict that ordered the fresh election, while INEC lodged a cross-appeal to validate the election result.

 

The apex court panel held that all cross-appeals would abide by its decision in the main appeal filed by Adebutu. Adebutu’s lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, argued that INEC was ordered to conduct a fresh poll in 99 polling units where results were either cancelled or the election did not hold at all. INEC, led by Mr. Abiodun Owonikoko, urged the apex court to dismiss Adebutu’s appeal as lacking in merit.

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