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Appeal court affirms Ajimobi’s victory


 Ladoja and Ajimobi

Ladoja and Ajimobi

THE Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan yesterday dismissed the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of Accord Party ( AP) in the last gubernatorial polls in Oyo state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja challenging the victory of Governor Abiola Ajimobi and ruling of the lower tribunal.

In a unanimous decision, the five- member panel of judges held that the appeal lacked merit  as the evidence of the principal witness in the appeal, Bimbo Adepoju, tagged as PW1, is inadmissible.

The lower tribunal had on October 27  affirmed the victory of Abiola Ajimobi and declared him winner of the April 11 governorship polls as earlier announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC).
Dissatisfied with the ruling,  Ladoja approached the Court of Appeal for a redress.

His lead counsel, Chief Robert Clark, prayed the court to dismiss the judgment of the lower tribunal on the ground that it excluded the evidence of his principal witness and sought a declaration that Ladoja won the election.

The panel included Justices H.M. Ogunjimiju, Haruna Simeon Tsammanani, Uchechukwu Oyemenam, J. Olubunmi Oyewole and M.L. Shuaibu.

In  dismissing Ladoja’s appeal, the court held that the “the totality of evidence presented by PW1 is an opinion” and cannot be considered because it was not that of evidence. “
The judges further held that the principal witness is an interested party and such evidence cannot be relied upon.

In their separate ruling, the judges  agreed that PW1, who was the main witness in the case, is a card-carrying member of Accord, an interested person, and frowned at his testimony when he is not an expert saying only an expert can make opinion in cases and will stand according to the constitution.

They also made references to inconsistency in the evidences, which could not be explained under cross examination that lasted five days at the lower tribunal.

The court even emphasised that the PW1 discredited himself during cross examination as he confessed to “wrong” at a point in time. They further submitted that the claim of violence and manipulation in areas mentioned could not be established.

Reacting after the ruling, counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC) Wole Aina, said the team is not surprised on the outcome of the appeal and lauded the judges for a job well done.

But counsel to Accord, Prince Aderemi Olatubora expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling saying the outcome was not what they bargained for.

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