Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, closed his defence at the Ogun Election Petition Tribunal on Tuesday, in the petition filed against his victory in March 18 governorship election by the Peoples Democratic Party, and its governorship candidate, Oladipupo Adebutu.
Governor Abiodun who opened his defence on Friday, August 4, called six witnesses to prove that he won the election and to dispute allegation of certificate forgery against him.
According to PMNews, the witnesses he called include two subpoenaed witnesses – an official of the West African Examination Council, a staff of Zenith bank, voters and party agents.
Abiodun in his defence, accused Adebutu of engaging in vote buying which according to him led to “willful disruption” of election by suspected thugs.
Abiodun also tendered hundreds of documents as evidence to prove his case.
Some of the documents tendered by Abiodun included: his West African Examination Council certificate, the report of the production of 200,000 units of top-up ATM cards, a letter of authority from the petitioner to open a Zenith bank account from which the top-up cards were preloaded with N10,000 each and a paper showing the sample of the preloaded cards.
At the hearing on Tuesday, counsel to Abiodun, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) called the governor’s last witness, Solomon Abiodun Sanyaolu, former Director General of Dapo Abiodun governorship campaign committee to give evidence in support of Abiodun’s case.
Olanipekun also sought the permission of the Tribunal to tender through the bar, the report of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Police investigation report in response of case of bribery, conspiracy undue influence of thugs, dated 12 May, 2023 and updated Police investigation report on a case of bribery, conspiracy, undue influence, dated 7 June, 2023.
The three-man panel, led by Hamidu Kunaza admitted the documents and marked them as evidence.
Meanwhile, Sanyaolu while being crossed examined by the PDP and Adebutu counsel, Goddy Uche, was confronted with a letter accusing him of borrowing N10million from the petitioner (Adebutu).
The witness confirmed to the Tribunal that he was a former member of the PDP and a close associate of Adebutu before the March 18 election.
You were a close associate of the petitioner (Adebutu)? I put it to you that your evidence is borne out of personal vendetta because the petitioner requested that you pay him the sum of N10 million which you borrowed from him and have refused to pay back.
“Here is a letter written by the lawyer to the petitioner requesting you to pay him back the N10 million loan which you took from him”, Uche said while showing a letter to the witness.
The witness while replying shouted back at Uche, saying, “I did not borrow N10 million from the petitioner, I only took a N5 million loan from him.”
“Have you paid the loan back? Do you have evidence here in court proving that you have paid back the loan? Your evidence is just to tarnish the image of the petitioner because he asked you for a refund of a loan you took from him”, Uche shouted back at the witness.
“I have paid back. I can provide the proof that I have paid back. I only took N5million from him and that was three years ago. Give me 10 minutes, I can provide a proof that I have paid back”, the witness replied.
Speaking to journalists after the hearing, one of the counsels to Abiodun, Prof Taiwo Osipitan said, “Like I keep on saying, there is no cause for alarm you can see us showing what we have in terms of vote buying, in terms of everything we can put into it to show that the petition is dead on arrival”.
On his part, Uche said, “Today, the second respondent has finally closed his case, we thought they will have more witnesses but so far so good we are happy with what has been happening at the Tribunal and we look forward to the case of the third respondent which is APC and then we will pick it up from there.
“We look forward to whether they will bring witnesses that will confront us with these issues and the things that they have said.”
Meanwhile, APC is expected to open its defence on Wednesday, being the third respondent in the petition.
Abiodun, who was the second respondent had been dragged before the three man Tribunal panel alongside the Independent National Electoral Commission as first respondent and as third respondent by the PDP and its governorship candidate, Adebutu over the outcome of the March 18, governorship election.
PDP and Adebutu in the petition marked, EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023 accused INEC of non-compliance to the Electoral Act and corrupt practices during the election.
The petitioners also alleged that elections were disrupted by thugs in over 99 polling units, disenfranchising over 40,000 voters from participating in the election.