Tribunal to deliver judgment Sept 29 in petition against Gbajabiamila
The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, will on September 29, 2015, deliver judgment in a petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate of Surulere Federal Constituency I, Lagos State, Mr. Tony Ashikodi, challenging the declaration of Dr. Olufemi Gbajabiamila of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the March 28, 2015, election.
Gbajabiamila is the majority leader of the House of Representatives, Abuja. The three-man panel, lead by Justice C.U. Anwuka, fixed the date after listening to the submission and adoption of written address by counsel to the parties.
Ashokodi, who had petitioned the tribunal through his counsel, Mr. Kalu Onuah, challenging the victory of Gbajabiamila, alleged irregularities during the election, which he said, breached the provisions of Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) approved guidelines for the polls.
At the resumed proceeding, the petitioner’s counsel submitted that Gbajabiamila was not duly elected or returned by the majority of lawful votes cast at the election held on March 28, 2015.
He prayed the court to void the election by reason of manifest breach and violation of the Electoral Act 2015 Election Guidelines, adding that a fresh election be ordered to be conducted by the INEC for the constituency.
Onuah submitted that petitioner relied on Section 53(2) which provides: “Where the votes cast at an election in any polling unit exceed the number of registered votes in that polling unit, the result of the election for that polling unit shall be declare null and void by the commission and another election may be conducted at a date to be fixed by the Commission, where the result at the polling unit may affect the overall result in the constituency.”
He further cited Section 63,71 and 74 of the Act, noting that the form shall be signed and stamped by the presiding officer and counter-signed by the candidates or their polling agents, where available at the polling unit.
However, Omotayo Olatunbosun and T.N Olaitan counsels represented first and second respondent respectively. Olatunbosun submitted that the petitioner’s argument was based on misconception of the law and a misrepresentation of facts.
He submitted that, “the documents were actually dumped on the Tribunal without any witness demonstrating the specific purposes each document was meant to serve.
It is on record that none of the documents tendered was linked with specifically, in open court, to the allegations in the petitions or to specific paragraphs of the petition. “The only witness called by the petitioner himself; his testimony constitutes, at best, documentary hearsay.
All he said about the occurrence of the event in issue is that he briefly visited the ward collation centres. There was no attempt on the part of the petitioner to call persons who actually witnessed the alleged events of alterations, cancelations, manipulations and falsifications.”
The petitioner had alleged irregularities in the conduct of the election, stating that: “The final figures in the tally of results in the Form EC 8C(i) were cancelled and altered by the 2nd respondents with a view of declaring the 1st respondent the winner of the election. “The 14,351 received by the 1st respondent/APC was whimsically changed to 21,715 while 16,079 earlier recorded for the petitioner was changed to 14,550.”