In a surprising turn of events during the ongoing governorship election tribunal in Ogun State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has taken an unexpected stance by announcing its decision not to call any witnesses.
The tribunal, which centers around the legal dispute initiated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its gubernatorial candidate, Ladi Adebutu, challenges the outcome of the state’s election.
Adebutu’s case at the election petition tribunal has been marked by a robust presentation, involving the testimony of a staggering 94 witnesses. The petitioner has also sought to establish INEC’s alleged non-compliance with the Electoral Act, bolstering his claims with an impressive collection of over 200,000 documents submitted to the tribunal.
Central to Adebutu’s argument is the assertion that the election was marred by widespread disruption instigated by unruly elements in more than 99 polling units. This disruption purportedly led to the disenfranchisement of a substantial number of voters, estimated at over 40,000 individuals, who were unable to participate in the March 18 polls. Over the course of the previous two weeks, Adebutu marshaled a diverse array of witnesses, including voters and party agents from various localities across Ogun State. These witnesses have attested to disruptions occurring at different polling units within the state’s precincts.
Intriguingly, two ad-hoc staff members from INEC, a representative from the West African Examination Council (WAEC), a statistician, and a forensic expert were all subpoenaed to testify before the tribunal. Adebutu supplemented his argument with a substantial evidentiary base, including certified true copies of INEC electoral materials, result sheets, voter registers, BVAS machine printouts, incident forms, video footage, forensic analyses, and other relevant documentation.
Recent developments indicate that Adebutu and the PDP have concluded presenting their cases, while INEC’s counsel, Abiodun Owonikoko, disclosed during a pre-hearing session that the electoral body plans to present just one witness. This unexpected decision now shifts the focus towards the responses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, who have secured an adjournment until August 2nd to formulate their counterarguments. As the tribunal progresses, the outcome remains uncertain, and its implications for the political landscape of Ogun State are eagerly awaited.