The Court of Appeal has deferred judgment on an appeal filed by Rauf Aregbesola, the governorship aspirant of the Action Congress (AC) in the 2007 elections in Osun State.
The five-member panel, led by Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, said this after listening to the arguments of counsel to the parties in the suit.
Mr. Aregbesola is contending the judgment of the Governorship and House of Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal of Osun State of May 28, 2010. The tribunal upheld the declaration of Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the said election.
Arguing on behalf of the petitioner, Akin Olujimi, a Senior Advocate, said his client is faulting the lower tribunal judgment because it has failed to consider the weight of evidence put before it before making its conclusions.
Mr. Olujimi made specific reference to Boripe local government, where the number of votes allotted to the PDP candidate were far much more than the total number of names available in the voters’ register there.
He said whereas the total number of the eligible voters, according to INEC’s voters’ register, is 12,631, the commission recorded 14, 497 for the PDP candidate.
He also pointed out that besides many discrepancies in the number of eligible voters in the register and the number of votes recorded during the election, the commission could only produce register for four wards, out of the 11 wards in the local government, “meaning that there are no register for the remaining 7 wards in the council,” the counsel said.
The petitioner alleged that one F.O. Nafiu, a PDP agent, who signed exhibit 196 before the court, signed nine out of the 11 documents containing the results of the election in Boripe local government.
This, he argued, could not be possible under election pressure, given the distance between the wards.
He then submitted that the tribunal had failed to consider all the irregularities, which, according to him, were enough to make it void all votes from the affected area and declare the candidate that pools the majority votes in the remaining vote cast as the winner of the election.
Having argued his point before the appeal panel, Mr. Olujimi urged it to set aside the judgment of the lower tribunal, cancel the votes of areas in contention, and declare his client winner of the election because with the remaining votes, he scored the highest.
But, Yusuf Ali, lead counsel to Governor Oyinlola, said the tribunal could not have judged otherwise because the appellant failed to prove his allegations of fraud beyond reasonable doubt.
He said most of the issues which the case rested upon are criminal, and needed concrete evidence to prove, which the appellant has failed to avail the court.
He said the appeal does not deserve any other action from the panel than a dismissal, urging the panel to do same.
After listening to the two and the counsel representing INEC, its officials, as well as others representing other parties to the suit, the appeal panel said it would communicate the judgement date to all the parties in due course.