Septuagenarian, banker, four others testify against Abiodun, APC at Ogun tribunal

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Abiodun

A 77-year-old man, Adeniyi Ijaola, a banker, Ayalekhue, and four others, on Thursday, testified before the Ogun Governorship Election Petition Tribunal against the victory of the state governor, Dapo Abiodun, and his party, the All Progressives Congress.

The six witnesses called by the People’s Democratic Party all claimed that violence and over voting marred the March 18, 2023 governorship election in their respective polling units in the state.

The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Abiodun the winner of the election having defeated the PDP governorship candidate, Oladipupo Adebutu, and others.

Dissatisfied with the INEC’s decision, Adebutu headed to the tribunal, challenging the victory of Abiodun and the APC, citing irregularities and violence.

At the Thursday resumed hearing, the counsel to the petitioner, Goddy Uche, called six more witnesses among who was a 77-year-old man.

Apart from the septuagenarian and the banker, other witnesses were;  Adedoyin Kehinde, Rukayat Adenike, Makanjuola Samson, and Popoola Adekunle.

The septuagenarian insisted that violence disrupted the process of the election at his polling unit at Ward 8, Unit 7 in the Sagamu Local government area of the state.

He told the tribunal that the election was hurriedly ended after three gunmen invaded the polling unit, chased out voters, and allegedly set ballot papers and ballot boxes ablaze.

He said, “Election at my polling unit started but was cancelled when voting was disrupted. To our surprise, three people came on motorcycles with guns and chased voters away.

“Ballot papers were burnt by those who came in. After running away we came back and saw the burnt ballot papers.

“No result was declared in the polling unit due to the disruption.”

Also giving his witness before the tribunal, a banker, who works with a microfinance bank,  in his written statement on oath accused the INEC of bias against his party.

Adenike who said she cast her vote at polling Unit 0011, Sabo in Sagamu local government area of the state was confronted with the allegation of casting her vote at a polling unit different from the unit on her permanent Voter’s card.

Adenike while defending herself said “my present polling unit is different from the one on my voter’s card because INEC transferred us to another polling unit in 2023. INEC should be the one to answer why they transferred us to a different polling unit.”

Also, testifying, Kehinde who alleged that there was violence at her polling unit said, “Votes and ballot boxes were set ablaze by thugs in my polling unit and that was why our election was cancelled. Our votes didn’t count.”

Speaking at the sideline of the tribunal, Counsel to the electoral umpire, Remi Olatubora (SAN), expressed pleasure with the process of the tribunal so far.

“They have called 40 witnesses now. We hope to take on more of these witnesses even though they are basically saying the same thing, identical statements but we will take them as they come.

“I’m satisfied as counsel to INEC. INEC is like a neutral party in this litigation but we are also primarily a defendant because the petitioners sued other respondents and INEC jointly and severally, so we have to defend the petition as a respondent.

“We are putting in our best in our cross-examination process as we should do, but then we thank God for a good and listening tribunal, they are very patient people and the proceeding has been very smooth and very fine,” he said.