A special panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja has upheld the decision of the Ogun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to strike out all allegations of vote-buying and voter inducement made by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its gubernatorial candidate, Ladi Adebutu, against Governor Dapo Abiodun and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The court also confirmed the validity of Governor Abiodun’s defense.
The case arose from the 18 March 2023 Ogun State gubernatorial election, during which Adebutu and PDP filed a reply alleging that Governor Abiodun and APC engaged in vote-buying.
In response, Governor Abiodun’s lawyers filed an application to have the reply struck out, arguing that it contravened electoral laws and court pleadings.
The Tribunal sided with Governor Abiodun’s lawyers and struck out the entire reply filed by Adebutu and PDP.
The Court of Appeal further established that the vote-buying allegation made by Adebutu and PDP was an afterthought, hastily introduced after Governor Abiodun presented evidence of alleged vote-buying during the election.
The Court found that the allegations lacked merit and competence, confirming the Tribunal’s decision to strike out specific paragraphs from Adebutu’s reply.
In addition, the Court of Appeal dismissed the entire appeal filed by Adebutu and PDP against the Ogun State Gubernatorial Election Petition Tribunal’s decision.
The Court upheld Governor Abiodun’s right to make allegations of electoral fraud and vote-buying against PDP and Adebutu, while rejecting PDP’s argument that the Governor’s defense should be restricted to the issues raised in their petition.
These decisions highlight that the allegations of vote-buying made by PDP were rejected and deemed incompetent by the Court of Appeal.
However, Governor Abiodun’s allegations of vote-buying against PDP and Adebutu remain under consideration by the Tribunal.
The Court’s rulings provide clarity on the competence of the allegations and counter-allegations in the election dispute, indicating that the case will proceed based on the evidence presented before the Tribunal.
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