National and state Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, western Nigeria, has reserved judgement in a petition brought before it against Senator Buruj Kasahamu, representing Ogun East Senatorial District.
Prince Dapo Abiodun, the All Progressives Congress, APC, Ogun East Senatorial candidate in the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly Election approached the tribunal claiming that he was validly elected, but was denied victory.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, all the counsel in the matter adopted their final addresses and made final submission to further convince the court on their cases.
But after listening to the counsel, Justice Ebiowei Tobi, Chairman of the three-man panel, said he reserved judgement to a later date which “will be communicated to counsel.”
Earlier in the day, counsel to the petitioner, Yusuf Ali (SAN) had argued that result sheets made available to agents at the polling units were different from the Certified True Copies, CTC, brought before the court by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
In his alternative prayer, Ali also prayed the court to nullify Kashamu’s election on ground that Dapo Abiodun won the majority valid votes, adding that the Senator was not qualified to contest the election in the first place because of the alleged drug related cases against him.
According to him, “Our position is that we won the election, but were denied victory and the tribunal should restore us into the victory path, that is the summary of our case.
“We had alternative prayers, one was that if we do the proper calculation of the valid votes, Dapo Abiodun would have the majority of valid votes, and we said based on that, nullify the election of Buruji and declare Dapo Abiodun the winner.
“In case the tribunal does not agree, by looking at the documents we brought after the conclusion of votes in each polling stations, Dapo Abiodun’s agents were given copies of the result which we tendered but we need INEC to bring the Certified True Copies and we now discovered that the ones they brought were different from the material particulars of the ones they gave to us on the day of the election.
“We now said if the tribunal agrees that such differences point to irregularities, we have asked the tribunal to nullify the election and order fresh election. Those are our alternative prayers.
“Our allegation again was that Buruji Kashamu was not qualified to run for the election having regards to a lot of issues on his extradition and based on those issues, he shouldn’t have contested election,” Ali said.
In his counter arguement, counsel to Kashamu, Ajibola Oluyede (SAN) said the petition was brought based on documents produced by the petitioner himself, saying such documents are not admissible before the court.
He said, “you were in court and you saw that the petitioner’s case was based on documents he produced himself, and he rejected the documents that were produced by the umpire and it is those ones he produced himself that he wants the court to rely upon.
“So, the arguments focused on those documents, all we are waiting for is for the court to give its judgement. We are very confident that the court would uphold the decision of the electorate. The electorate have elected their Senator.
“The tribunals are not set up to second-guess the electorate and I have observed that members of this tribunal are very mature and experienced judges and I am sure that they will do justice.”
Ali hinted that he would approach a higher court should the tribunal fail to grant his prayers.