JUST IN: Supreme Court Upholds Governor Dapo Abiodun’s Reelection
The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-member panel, dismissed as lacking in merit an appeal the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Ladi Adebutu, filed to challenge the outcome of the governorship poll held in the state on March 18, 2023.
In its lead judgement that was prepared by Justice Tijjani Abubakar, the apex court said it found no reason to nullify the election victory of Governor Abiodun, who was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The apex court upheld the earlier verdict of the Court of Appeal, which on November 22, 2023, dismissed the case the PDP and its candidate raised against the election.
“This appeal is unmeritorious, and it is accordingly dismissed,” the court held.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared that Governor Abiodun polled a total of 276,298 votes to defeat his closest rival, Adebutu of the PDP, who garnered a total of 262,383 votes.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the poll, Adebutu approached the Ogun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, insisting that he was the valid winner of the gubernatorial contest.
He, among other things, alleged that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
Aside from alleging that the election was marred by irregularities and corrupt practices, Adebutu alleged that over 40,000 voters from his strongholds were disenfranchised due to violence.
He told the tribunal that he secured the highest number of valid votes cast at the election and therefore ought to have been declared the winner by INEC.
However, Adebutu’s petition was dismissed by Justice Hamidu Kunaza, who led a three-man tribunal that affirmed Abiodun as the bona fide winner of the contest.
Likewise, the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, on November 24, 2023, in a split judgement of two to three, upheld the decision of the tribunal.
While the appellate court, in its majority decision that was delivered by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, found no reason to dislodge the judgement of the tribunal, in her minority verdict, Justice Jane Inyang directed INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return it issued to Abiodun and, within 90 days, conduct a fresh election in some polling units in the state.
Whereas Adebutu approached the Supreme Court to challenge the appellate court’s majority judgement, Governor Abiodun lodged a cross-appeal to set aside the minority verdict that ordered the fresh election.
INEC equally lodged a cross-appeal, praying to the Supreme Court to validate the result of the election that it announced.