The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 18 governorship election, Dapo Abiodun, has closed his defence at the tribunal after calling six witnesses and tendering several documents to prove his case before the three-man Tribunal led by Justice Hamidu Kunaza.
Abiodun was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Some of the documents tendered by the first defendant included his West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate, the report of the production of 200,000 units of top-up ATM cards by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu.
Others are 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 resumed hearing, the counsel to Dapo Abiodun, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), sought the permission of the Tribunal to tender the documents through the bar.
He listed the documents to include a report of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), a police investigation report in response to a case of bribery and conspiracy of undue influence of thugs, dated May 12, 2023, and an updated police investigation report on a case of bribery, conspiracy, undue influence, dated June 7, 2023.
There was however a mild drama at the State Election Petition Tribunal as counsel to the petitioners, Gordy Uche and a witness, Solomon Abiodun Sanyaolu engaged in a shouting match.
The petitioner, Abiodun Sanyaolu, who was the Director General of the Dapo Abiodun Governorship Campaign Committee, appeared before the court on Tuesday to give evidence in support of Abiodun’s case.
The PDP and Adebutu, its governorship candidate, in the petition marked EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023, are challenging Abiodun’s victory over alleged non-compliance to the Electoral Act and corrupt practices during the election.
The petitioners alleged that elections were disrupted by thugs in over 99 polling units, disenfranchising over 40,000 voters from participating in the March 18 election.
Abiodun Sanyaolu, while being cross-examined by the counsel to the petitioner, Gordy Uche, at the resumed hearing, engaged in a shouting match when he was confronted with a letter accusing him of borrowing N10 million from the petitioner, Ladi 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 born 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,” the petitioner’s counsel said
Showing the witness a letter, Uche said, “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.”
In his reply, the witness shouted back at Uche, saying, “I did not borrow N10 million from the petitioner. I only took a N5 million loan from him.”
Also speaking with his voice raised, Uche asked the witness, “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.”
“I have paid back. I can provide the proof that I have paid back. I only took N5 million from him and that was three years ago. Give me 10 minutes, I can provide proof that I have paid back,” the witness replied.
Speaking to journalists after, 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.”
For 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 with these issues and the things that they have said.”
The APC is expected to open its defence on Wednesday, being the third respondent in the petition.