ACN Floors PDP At Tribunal

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Still smarting from the defeat inflicted on it by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the last general elections in Ogun State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today lost another battle, which is legal,again to the ACN.

The petitions filed by PDP candidates, Musa Kehinde Borokini representing Egbado South/Ipokia Federal Constituency ,Segun Seriki representing Ijebu North/East/ Ogun Waterside Federal Constituency and Mohammed Tahir Odunowo who contested for the Ogun East Senatorial District seat were all dismissed by the tribunal.

They were challenging the victory of the ACN candidates at the last general elections in which the ACN candidates were declared winners.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared the candidates of ACN in Egbado South/Ipokia Federal Constituency, Isiaq Abiodun Akinlade; Ijebu North/East/Ogun Waterside Federal Constituency, Abiodun Abudu Balogun; and the Ogun East Senatorial candidate, Sefiu Adegbenga Kaka winners of the elections.

Giving the ruling, the Tribunal said that the petitioners could not prove their cases beyond doubt, adding that their failure to substantiate the allegation of over-voting, disenfranchisement, vote-splitting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 weakened their case and the tribunal struck out their petitions.

The anxiety over the return of the former Speaker, House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, seem to be over after the National and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal also dismissed his petition.

The Tribunal sitting in Isabo, Abeokuta today dismissed the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on behalf of Bankole who was defeated by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate for Abeokuta South Federal Constituency, Olusegun Williams.

The tribunal said the petiton lacked substance and has collapsed .

Three weeks ago, there were speculations that Bankole was scheming to return to the lower chamber of the National Assembly. This compelled the counsel to the respondent to raise the alarm over the action.

Reading the judgment on behalf of other members of the tribunal, Justice Michael Obi said that the petitioner had failed to prove the allegations beyond doubt.

Citing many relevant portions of the Electoral Acts and the constitution, the panel said that it was the opinion of the tribunal that the defendant won the majority lawful votes cast and thereby declared him winner of the election and subsequently dismissed the petition.

PDP had approached the tribunal on behalf of Bankole on April 29, 2011 challenging the outcome of the 9 April, 2011 National Assembly Election in Abeokuta South Federal Constituency won by ACN.

In his argument, the petitioner had told the court that he won the majority of lawful votes cast as against his opponent ,Segun Williams, who was returned winner by INEC.

The lead counsel to the petitioner, Adedayo Adegbile , prayed the tribunal to declare Bankole winner, on the ground that over 5,000 voters were disenfranchised in many polling units across the constituency.

He also argued that there was unlawful substitution of candidates before the election, while alleging that, there were irregularities during the election that favored the candidate of ACN.

However, Counsel to ACN, George Oyeniyi, refuted the claims of the plaintiff, describing it as frivolous and saying the petition lacked legal backing.

He cited many relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Acts to back his claims, urging the tribunal to dismiss the petition and declare his client winner.

By Abiodun Onafuye/Abeokuta