In an unexpected turn of events, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has made a stunning reversal by deciding to close its defense and not raise any objections to the earnest pleas and meticulously presented case by Oladipupo Adebutu and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The dramatic courtroom scene unfolded on August 2nd, 2023, at the Ogun Governorship Tribunal, Isabo, Abeokuta. The Commission’s Counsel, Olumide Ogidan Esq., revealed that INEC would not counter any objections to the petitioner’s case or resist any objections to the Commission’s earlier actions.
INEC surprising change in stance reflects a palpable shift in strategy, likely aimed at circumventing potential embarrassment and salvaging the Commission’s reputation, which has been tarnished by the alleged flawed and partial proceedings observed by the Commission during the March 18 Gubernatorial election in Ogun state.
Legal experts and political analysts are viewing this move by INEC as a clear admission of its culpability and an attempt to minimize damage in the face of mounting criticism. The abrupt withdrawal of defense comes as a welcome surprise to the petitioner, Oladipupo Adebutu, and the PDP, who have vociferously accused the Commission of bias in favor of the incumbent, Dapo Abiodun, and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The honorable tribunal, having listened to all sides, has set the stage for further hearings, scheduling continuation of defense for Mr. Dapo Abiodun on Friday, August 4th, 2023. It is noteworthy that Mr. Dapo Abiodun now has ten days to counter the substantial allegations presented before the tribunal. Interestingly, his legal counsel, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan, has generously offered to allocate five days of the allotted time for defense.
This unprecedented development underscores the deep-seated concerns surrounding the actions and decisions of INEC in one of Nigeria’s most pivotal gubernatorial elections. It emphasizes the mounting pressure and widespread condemnation faced by the electoral body for its perceived favoritism of Dapo Abiodun and the APC, against the wishes and sentiments of the voters of Ogun State.
As the proceedings unfold, the eyes of the nation remain fixated on the courtroom drama, with anticipation building over whether the actions of INEC will ultimately withstand scrutiny. Will the attempts to shield Governor Abiodun and the APC from legal repercussions succeed, or will justice prevail and pave the way for the acclaimed choice of the people, Oladipupo Adebutu, to ascend to the helm of Ogun State’s leadership? The unfolding events promise a gripping climax to this gripping legal battle that could shape the political landscape for years to come.
The petitioner, Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu, and the PDP have meticulously presented a compelling case, complete with a plethora of exhibits, witnesses, and expert testimonies that seek to establish that Mr. Dapo Abiodun’s victory was, indeed, deeply flawed and achieved through questionable means. With the stage set for further legal deliberations, the citizens of Ogun State and political observers across the nation eagerly await the resolution of this high-stakes legal battle that could potentially reshape the course of Nigerian politics.