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Tribunal upholds Gbajabiamila’s election

Tribunal upholds Gbajabiamila’s election

Mfonobong Akpan

The Lagos State National Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Ikeja has upheld the declaration of the majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila as the winner of Surulere Federal Constituency I election.

In a judgment delivered by Justice C. U. Anwuka, the tribunal dismissed the petition submitted by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Mr. Tony Ashikodi and resolved all the issues raised in favour of Mr Gbajabiamila.

Mr. Gbajabiamila, had been declared winner of the March 28, 2015 poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after polling 21,715 votes.

But his victory in the election, was challenged by Mr Ashikodi, who polled 14,550 votes.

While delivering the judgment, Justice Anwuka, who headed the three-man panel, held that the petitioner failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and also failed to substantiate his allegations of ballot boxes snatching and falsification of result sheets by not calling witnesses to justify his claim.

The judge also dismissed Mr Ashikodi’s claim of multiple irregularities holding that the petitioner said in his evidence that he was not present at the collation centre.

The tribunal further held that the petitioner did not link any document tendered with his allegation of irregularities.

On issue of the allegation of failure to comply with section 139 of the Electoral Act, the tribunal held that the petitioner was wrong in law.

In his petition Mr Ashikodi had alleged that the election was characterised by irregularities and a breach of the guidelines set out by INEC for the conduct of the election.

Apart from seeking an order nullifying the election, the petitioner had also urged the tribunal for an order compelling INEC to conduct a fresh election, arguing that Mr Gbajabiamila did not score the highest number of valid votes as declared by INEC.

Mr Ashikodi’s counsel, Kalu Onuah, said the tribunal was bound to declare null and void the declaration by INEC that Mr Gbajabiamila won the election, in compliance with Section 53(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 which mandated the nullification of any election where the number of votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters.

Mr Onuah, further argued that a situation where the result sheets were not signed and counter-signed by the agents of the candidates at the polling units should lead to the nullification of the result.

Opposing him, counsel to Mr. Gbajabiamila and the APC, Omotayo Olatunbosun argued that the petitioner’s counsel misconceived the law and misrepresented the facts.

The respondents’ counsel argued that none of the exhibits tendered by the petitioner and his party alluded to any of their claims that the election was fraught with irregularities.

source: channelstv