The Coalition of Registered Political Parties in Ogun State hereby expresses its deep disappointment in today’s Saturday, September 30, 2023 judgement, delivered by the Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal, in Abeokuta. The tribunal’s decision in the case between Hon. Ladi Adebutu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Prince Dapo Abiodun (APC) has left us profoundly concerned about the state of justice and fairness in our legal system.
We firmly believe that the judgement handed down by the tribunal is yet another miscarriage of justice in Nigeria’s legal history. Our concerns stem from the apparent focus on technicalities rather than the merits of the case. In a time when facts and evidence should carry the utmost weight, we find ourselves perplexed by the tribunal’s reliance on technicalities involving procedural issues and semantics of the interpretation of words over the substance and core realities of the case.
The tribunal’s decision to favour the respondent on objections and its insistence on the petition’s use of specific words and phrases raise important questions about the fairness and objectivity of our legal process. It is disheartening to witness a judgement that seemingly prioritizes linguistic nuances over the substantial evidence presented by the petitioner.
Furthermore, the tribunal’s assertion that the petitioner should have front-loaded certain information in the petition is puzzling. In the interest of a fair and unbiased legal process, it is not unreasonable for petitioners to strategically reveal their evidence during the trial rather than prematurely disclosing their entire case. This principle is fundamental to the preservation of due process and justice.
The tribunal’s refusal to acknowledge the extensive evidence presented, including statistical data, forensic analysis, video recordings, and printed evidence etc., is deeply troubling. Despite compelling evidence of various irregularities such as disenfranchisement, over-voting, snatching and burning of ballot boxes and distruption of voting, the tribunal’s focus on procedural grounds has left us questioning the integrity of the legal process.
In particular, the tribunal’s handling of disenfranchisement issues raises concerns about the civic rights of those affected in almost 99 polling units. Requiring over 40000 disenfranchised voters to meet to be present physically as witnesses for their testimony is considered ridiculous and a disheartening stipulation that fails to account for the challenges faced by voters particularly in marginalized communities.
The tribunal’s fixation on procedural flaws, its interpretation of words, and its dismissal of substantive evidence have led us to believe that the merits of the case were unfairly overshadowed. We, the coalition of registered political parties in Ogun State, stand in full support of Hon. Ladi Adebutu, the PDP gubernatorial candidate in the 2023 election, and his decision to appeal the tribunal’s judgment. We believe that the pursuit of justice and the truth should always prevail over these spurious technicalities.
In conclusion, we hope that the higher courts will thoroughly review the tribunal’s decisions to assure the populace of a commitment to upholding justice and fairness in our legal system. The Nigerian people deserve nothing less than a legal process that prioritizes truth, evidence, and the protection of their rights.
Hon. Oke Oluwarotimi
Representative of the Coalition of Political Parties