Supreme Court affirms Abiodun as Ogun governor
The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the election of Dapo Abiodun as governor of Ogun State.
A five-member panel of the Supreme Court, headed by John Okoro, held that the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu, failed to prove allegations of non-compliance with the Electoral Act during the conduct of the 18 March poll.
“This appeal is unmeritorious and ought to be dismissed and it is hereby dismissed. The judgement of the Court is hereby affirmed,” Tijjani Abubakar, who read the lead judgement, said.
Mr Abiodun was re-elected as the Governor of Ogun State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in March 2023.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced that Mr Abiodun polled 276,298 votes to beat his closest challenger, Mr Adebutu, who scored 262,383 votes.
But Mr Adebutu disagreed with the outcome of the poll, prompting him to file a petition at the Ogun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Abeokuta to challenge the result.
In his quest to overturn the governor’s victory, Mr Adebutu alleged, among others, that the poll was not conducted in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
He contended that the election was marred by irregularities and corrupt practices, noting that over 40,000 voters from his strongholds were disenfranchised due to violence.
Also, 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.
But, Mr Adebutu’s petition was dismissed by the Hamidu Kunaza-led three-member tribunal, affirming Mr Abiodun’s election. He proceeded to the Court of Appeal to challenge the decision.
Delivering judgement on the appeal, the Court of Appeal, in its majority judgement of the three-member panel that was delivered by Joseph Ikyegh, said there was no reason to overturn the judgement of the tribunal.
But in her dissenting, minority opinion, Jane Inyang directed INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return it issued to Mr Abiodun and, within 90 days, conduct a fresh election in some polling units in the state.
Arguing the case at the Supreme Court, the electoral commission said the governorship and presidential elections were not determined by a margin of lead but by the spread of votes, in line with the provision of section 179 of the Nigerian constitution.
Similarly, Mr Abiodun’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), prayed the court to dismiss the appeal.
He urged the court to uphold Mr Abiodun’s victory as the validly elected governor of Ogun State, a prayer the court upheld on Friday.