The Osun Governorship Election Petition Tribunal Thursday in Abuja witnessed a stunning session as the Independent National Electoral Commission closed its submission without calling a single witness.
To the consternation of the legal teams of All Progressives Congress and Governlr Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, the commission, through its counsel, Adesina Agbede rose to apply for closure of their case.
The counsel had staked his reputation the previous day when he promised that the witnesses would testify at yesterday’s proceedings. The Tribunal Chairman quickly came to the aid of the counsel by ruling that he did not have apply to close INEC’s defense, urging him to proceed with his case.
The INEC counsel eventually closed the case without canvassing any argument against the presentations, submissions and prayers of the petitioner that Senator Ademola Adeleke be declared the rightful winner of the election based on the results of September 22, 2018.
Speaking on the implication of INEC’s decision, lead counsel to the petitioner, Dr. Paul Ananaba, SAN said; “INEC has literally endorsed and conceeded to the PDP petition seeking declaration of Senator Adeleke as the winner of the election.”
According to the legal luminary, “our case is primarily against the actions and decisions of INEC and if they cannot challenge our Petition, or provide any defence for their fraudulent actions that led to the declaration of Alhaji Oyetola as winner, then the commission has literally admitted that our petition is right and correct before the law and God.
“A key pillar of our case is that the returning officer without legal powers cancelled results of seven polling units and proceeded to declare the election inconclusive. INEC failed to declare PDP and its candidate winner even after fulfilling all constitutional stipulations. We also complained that INEC altered result sheets and that the commission published results where there was no accreditation and ballot accounting.”
He continued; “We called 80 witnesses to authenticate our pleadings and prayers and also tendered over 500 pieces of documentary evidence. By closing its case without any defense, INEC is saying we cannot challenge petitoner’s case. INEC has accepted that We are right in our prayers that the rightful winner of the election is PDP’s Senator Ademola Adeleke.
“INEC is the one that committed the infractions and it has literally accepted our pleadings and prayers . We will be surprised if APC and its candidate will challenge our petition in the light of INEC’s action. The honourable thing for APC to do is to throw in the towel and avoid wasting time,” the senior lawyer said.
The tribunal adjourned further sitting till Wednesday, January 30.