Breaking: Court Of Appeal Currently ongoing To Hear Ogun Governorship Election Petition Against Dapo Abiodun

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos is currently ongoing, the governorship appeal by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ladi Adebutu against the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Governor Dapo Abiodun.

Dapo Abiodun was declared the winner of the March 18 governorship election in the state.

The state tribunal had also affirmed his victory.

However, the PDP candidate appealed the tribunal judgement and asked the appellate court to declare him winner.

The PDP candidate told the Appellate court in his notice of appeal that there was over-voting and noncompliance with the 2022 Electoral Act during the 2023 governorship election in the state.

Chief Uche SAN identifies his Brief of Argument dated 24 November 2023 filed on 25 November 2023, as well as List of Authorities filed on 25 November 2023

He also identifies three Reply Briefs filed on 1 November 2023 in response to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Respondents’ respective briefs

He also identifies the Additional List of Authorities filed on 13 November 2023
Chief Uche SAN adopts all the identified processes and relies on them in urging the Court to set aside the judgment of the Trial Tribunal and grant all the reliefs sought in the Notice of Appeal filed on 13 October 2023
For emphasis, Chief Uche SAN urges the Court:

1. To hold that there is a distinction between the facts in the recent Supreme Court decision in Atiku v. INEC & 2 Ors and this appeal, cited by 2nd Respondent in support of First and Second Issues. In response to the court’s enquiry about the availability of that judgment, Chief Uche mentions that the judgment is not available and on that premise even, the court should ignore the authorities as cited by 2nd Respondent. Notwithstanding, Chief Uche SAN adds that Appellants spectacularly called 94 witnesses, half of which were Polling Unit Agents

2. To hold that on the issue of margin of lead, Appellants proved there was agreement of all parties that elections did not hold in 99 Polling Units based on which about 41,000 votes were excluded (he refers to Pages 15-19 of his Brief)

3. Note that they demonstrated up to 37,000 ballot papers that were utilised by INEC but not thumbprinted or multiply thumbprinted (referring to pages 20-21 of his Brief)

4. Conclude that when the 41,000 and 37,000 votes are utilised

5. Hold that the Tribunal was wrong to have struck out the grounds of the petition in the manner it did, without forst treating the matter on the merits

He urges the Court to allow the appeal
In response, Mr Owonikoko SAN identifies 1st Respondent’s Brief of Argument and List of Authorities filed on 21 October 2023

He urges the Court to dismiss the appeal for lacking merit
In respect of the issue of 49,000 disenfranchised voters which Chief Uche SAN raised, Mr Owonikoko SAN refers to Para 4.37 to 4.40 at pages 18 and 19 of his Broef to point out that Appellants only called 48 witnesses and that the authorities are that of the case is disenfranchisement, all the disenfranchised voters whose disenfranchisement is to be proved must be called as witnesses. He adds that the Court cannot amplify 48 witness to 49,000 witnesses, as Appellants want

He urges the Court to dismiss the appeal
[11/14, 11:05] Hon Oladunjoye: For 2nd Respondent, Chief Olanipekun identifies and adopts his brief

As a preliminary point, Chief Olanipekun SAN states that contrary to the position set out by Chief Uche SAN, the decision in Atiku’s case completely encapsulates the issues in this appeal. He argues that in that appeal, the Supreme Court simply adopted in toto the decision of the Court of Appeal delivered by this court

He adds that incidentally, the same Samuel Oduntan who was rejected as a witness by the Court of Appeal in Atiku’s case metamorphosed as PW 93 in this appeal

In response to the Court, he undertakes to provide the court with a copy of the judgment
In addition, Chief Olanipekun SAN emphasises

1. Pages 3-5 of his Brief where he identified about 8 key findings of the Trial Tribunal that Appellants did not challenge

2. Paras 4.3 of the Brief arguing that Appellants have abandoned about 5 Grounds of Appeal

3. Issue 3 at page 17 of 2nd Respondent’s Brief where Tribunal rightly struck out

4. On the margin of lead, his argument that there is nothing to even consider on margin of lead

He urges the Court to dismiss the appeal for lacking merit
For 3rd Respondent, Dr Ikpeazu SAN identifies his Brief of Argument filed on 28 October 2023 and a List of Authorities. He also identifies a List of Additional Authorities filed on 2 November 2023

He adopts all processes and relies on them in urging the Court to dismiss the appeal
Court appreciates the Silks and Counsel. Chief Olanipekun SAN responds on behalf of the Bar.

Judgment reserved. Court rises.
In emphasis, Dr Ikpeazu SAN states that Exhibit PT609 is not a proper document to use (He refers to 71-72 of the Brief)

On the Atiku appeal, he adds that the Courts did not do anything novel. That the Court of Appeal as PEPC relied on settled Constitutional positions already espoused in Ararume v INEC and in Oke v. Mimiko to the effect that all witness statements must accompany the Petition.

Finally and relatedly, he argues that all the witnesses who could be said to have given substantial evidence did so on subpoenas and thus were rightly discountenanced (He refers to 80-84 of his Brief)

Based on all the above, he urges the Court to dismiss the appeal
Court confers with counsel as the the last date of the appeal. Chief Uche SAN volunteers 28 November 2023 as the deadline. He also pleads for at least 3 days’ notice before judgment, for the sake of counsel coming from Abuja

No objection and court is not disinclined

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