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    Ekiti: Tribunal Says It Can’t Proceed Because Electoral Material Exceed Polling Unit


    Oct 7, 2022

    The Election Petition Tribunal hearing the dispute from the June 18 Ekiti governorship election has said it can’t proceed with hearing because electoral materials brought before it was more than the number of polling units in the state.

    According to the tribunal, during the marking of the document at it’s secretariat, it was discovered that some of the documents were in excess of all the 2,445 polling units in the State.

    The Tribunal Chairman, Justice Wilfred Kpochi, said the Panel wanted to mark each of the documents for each of the polling units for ease of reference but it was discovered that there were more documents for each of the polling units brought to the court.

    He noted that because judgment will be based on polling units, nothing can be done, therefore the tribunal wants to allow them to look at it very well.

    This sparked a heated argument among lawyers to the petitioners and respondents as they disagreed on who was at fault.

    The tribunal chairman however responded saying the hearing can’t proceed here because there is a stalemate, and “for now, we don’t know what is for each unit and it is incumbent upon you to confirm it.”

    Naija News gathered that the said electoral document were those brought by the former Governor, Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), who is the 1st Petitioner and candidate of the 2nd Petitioner and that they were brought before the tribunal to be tendered as exhibits.

    Oni, who had earlier been led in examination-in-chief by his lead counsel, Obafemi Adewale (SAN), claimed that he was denied access to electoral materials in the custody of the 4th Respondent, that is Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when he applied to inspect them.

    Adewale, however, accused INEC of blocking his client’s access to inspect the documents in good time in defiance of the order of the tribunal, saying “we have brought what INEC gave us.”

    Although Oni had earlier told the Panel that he “didn’t get the most important ones like Bimodal Voter Authentication System (BVAS) Machine, used and unused ballot papers,” he later told the Tribunal that “I got some today.”

    However, lead counsel to the 1st Respondent, Biodun Oyebanji, who was the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) lead counsel to APC, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN) and lead counsel to 3rd Respondent (INEC), Mai Mala Buni, Precious Soje all objected to the admissibility of the documents Oni sought to tender.

    Fagbemi argued that Oni had tendered the documents and had concluded his examination-in-chief by his counsel and should be ready for cross-examination by counsel to the Respondents.

    The same line of argument was canvassed by counsel to APC, Olujinmi and counsel to Buni, Soje.

    Counsel to INEC, Edosomwan contended that his client and the other Respondents cannot do the Petitioners’ case for them, adding that the judges “cannot descend into the arena.”

    It would be recalled that Naija News reported that the chairman of the SDP in Ekiti State, Dele Ekunola pointed out some irregularities in the state gubernatorial election.

    Okunola assured the people of the state that Segun Oni, will reclaim his “stolen” mandate in the court based on the evidence before them.

    He noted that the election was full of irregularities ranging from vote buying and selling, intimidation, harassment of voters and open destruction of material in the presence of security officials.

    He said, “I can assure you that we have concluded our plans to take the injustice meted on Ekiti people to the tribunal based on the weighty evidence before us.

    “We are in the vantage position to reclaim our mandate because it was full of irregularities; ranging from vote buying and selling, intimidation, harassment of voters and destruction of electoral materials openly in the presence of the security officials.”

    This article was originally published on Naija News

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