Barristers & Solicitors
Vote-buying: Ogun tribunal strikes out PDP, Adebutu’s Reply

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Abeokuta, Ogun State, has struck out the response of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Ladi Adebutu, touching on vote buying allegation against Governor Dapo Abiodun and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The three-man panel chaired by Justice Hamidu Kunaza yesterday struck out Adebutu’s allegation on the grounds that the new facts he sought to introduce were not part of the petition earlier filed.

 Adebutu approached the tribunal to challenge Governor Dapo Abiodun’s declaration as winner of the March 18 governorship election.

But the Governor’s defence team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), alleged that Adebutu and the PDP engaged in vote-buying during the elections. They also relied on police investigation which indicted Adebutu of alleged vote-buying with N2 billion through an ATM card preloaded with N10,000 each, to back their response to Adebutu’s petition.

Ruling on the matter yesterday, Justice Kunaza agreed with the submissions by Prof. Taiwo  Osipitan, one of Abiodun’s lawyers, and struck out Adebutu’s Reply bordering on vote-buying allegation against Abiodun and the APC.

 The tribunal noted that in their petition, Adebutu and PDP alleged that Governor Abiodun and APC committed corrupt practices during the governorship elections, noting that vote-buying is a species of corruption, and if PDP and Adebutu truly believed that APC engaged in vote-buying, the petitioner ought to have incorporated those allegations in their initial petition from the start, which they did not do.

On June 19, the last adjourned date, Prof. Osipitan (SAN) had accused the PDP and Adebutu of vote-buying in one of its motions, prompting Goddy Uche, counsel of the petitioner, to also accuse the APC and its candidate of same.

Uche argued that Abiodun should not be responding wrongly as the issue of vote-buying was not raised initially in the petition before the tribunal.

Osipitan, however faulted Uche’s position, arguing that the PDP cannot inject any further allegation into its petition midstream, and asked the court to reject such attempt as it would amount to an ‘expansion of the PDP petition’.”

He thus asked the tribunal to strike out the reply in its entirety or, in the alternative, strike out offending paragraphs from it.