The National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting at Iyaganku, Ibadan, Oyo State capital, on Friday dismissed the petitions filed by Shina Peller, (the senatorial candidate of the Accord party for Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Kajola/Iwajowa federal constituency of Oyo North), against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Sen. Abdulfatai Buhari; the People”s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Akinwale Solomon Akinwole, as well as, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), describing it as lacking in merit.
Similarly, it dismissed the petition filed by Kamil Akinlabi of the Afijio, Oyo East, Oyo West federal constituency against the APC Rep member, Akeem Adeniyi Adeyemi, for lacking in merit and failing to prove allegations of over-voting and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act in the February 25, 2023 election.
While it ordered parties in the Peller’s petition to bear their costs, the tribunal awarded N300,000 against the petitioners in favour of the third-term senator, and N10,000 to the Secretary of the Tribunal.
Peller had petitioned Buhari and Akinwole, alleging that the INEC unlawfully declared Buhari winner of the election having not polled the majority of lawful votes in the election, praying that the election should be cancelled and a rerun ordered.
“Through his counsel, Peller had urged the tribunal for an order declaring the results of the election null and void, having not been adequately accounted for by the respondents, moreso that the conduct was marred by non-compliance with the provisions of Electoral Act, 2022.
The three-man tribunal led by Justice Elias Abua, dismissed the petition on the ground that the petitioner failed to prove that there was over-voting in some polling units of his federal constituency, noting that a report in the BVAS machines should have been presented instead of mere records of accredited voters from the BVAS.
Assuming without conceding that the alleged 534 votes said to be over-voting were deducted from the total votes cast, the petitioner’s 54,732 votes could still not match the 90,078 votes garnered by Senator Buhari and 77,034 polled by the PDP candidate, the tribunal held.
It observed that some of the collation agents called as witnesses merely presented documentary hearsay evidence which was fatal to their case.
“First-hand witness who was at the polling unit throughout the period of election and saw that election did not hold, should have been called instead of a witness who testified based on what he was told.
“In all, the case proved by the petitioner cannot overturn the results of the entire election. It is hereby ordered that the petition of the petitioner be dismissed for lack of merit. I make no order as to cost”, the Judge said.