Ladi Adebutu Vs Dapo Abiodun: Supreme Court Reserves Judgment

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JUSTICE John Okoro-led five-member panel of the Supreme Court on Thursday reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the 18 March 2023 governorship election, Ladi Adebutu against Prince Dapo Abiodun and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The decision of the apex court to reserve judgment is sequel to the adoption of brief arguments by parties including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The apex court, however, declined to hear the cross-appeals filed by the APC and the INEC, insisting that it abides from the outcome of the main appeal filed by Adebutu.

Efforts by the APC’s counsel to move the cross-appeals were refused by the panel as the panel held that the main appeal covers them.

Adebutu’s appeal is seeking the nullification of the declaration of Abiodun as the winner of the election.

Adebutu is challenging Abiodun’s re-election on the ground that the Electoral Act, 2022 was not complied with in the conduct and subsequent declaration as the winner of the poll, citing corrupt practices and issue of non-qualification.

The PDP and Adebutu are therefore praying for the apex court to set aside and/or dismiss the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, which had on 23 November 2023 affirmed the decision of the Ogun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in upholding Prince Abiodun’s victory.

Two Justices of the court below had dismissed the appeal filed by Adebutu for lacking in merit, while Justice Jane Inyang saw merit in the petition and thereby ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return presented to Abiodun and conduct another election in 99 polling units where elections were disrupted.

In adopting his brief of arguments, Chris Uche SAN, counsel for the appellants said INEC ought to have conducted fresh elections in 99 polling units where elections were cancelled and not declared a winner.

He said the return of the governor by INEC as duly elected was unlawful and the election was wrongly concluded because corrupt practices were allegedly manifest during the poll.

However, counsel for the first respondent(INEC), asked the apex court to dismiss the appeal. He maintained that both the governorship and presidential elections are not determined by the margin of lead but by the spread of votes, according to Section 179 of the 1999 Constitution.

INEC had declared Abiodun the winner of the election after polling 276,298 votes to defeat his closest rival Adebutu, who polled 262,383 votes.

 

Eighteen-Eleven Media

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