IBADAN—THE Court of Appeal in Ibadan has dismissed the verdict of a lower election petition tribunal in Ogun State which had earlier nullified the election of Senator Buruji Kashamu of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and declared him winner of the election.
Prince Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress, APC, had challenged the victory of the senator representing Ogun East senatorial district in the March 28 election saying the election was marred by large scale irregularities noting that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, erred by declaring Kashamu winner of the election. The tribunal ordered a re-run of the election in 91 out of 110 polling units in the senatorial district.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the lower tribunal, Senator Buruji headed to the Appellate Court for redress. Following allegations of compromise and a petition written against a three-man panel which had earlier been constituted, the panel was dissolved and a new one re-constituted.
The Chairman of the three- member appeal panel is Justice Mitshelia, A.G.
Reading the lead judgment, Justice M.L Shuaib, held that the tribunal erred and was partisan, adding that it descended into the arena and scouted for evidence to nullify kashamu’s election and truncate his victory. He held that it was curious, illogical and perverse of the tribunal to place so much reliance on the evidence of a prosecution witness labelled as PW44 and further admit as evidence documents that were clearly inadmissible under the law and also act on such evidence to truncate kashamu’s victory. He held that it was curious, illogical and perverse of the tribunal to place so much reliance on the evidence of a prosecution witness labeled as PW 44 and further admit as evidence documents that were clearly inadmissible under the law and also act on such evidence to truncate kashamu’s victory. The panel also noted that the PW 44, who posed as a forensic expert had discredited himself during cross examination when he stated that anyone with prerequisite knowledge could do what he did and added that he had no degree in statistics. The three man panel further held that the case of Prince Dapo Abiodun and the All Progressive Congress is a non issue as the material used to nullify the results of elections in some polling units and order re-election is inadmissible in law.
Kashamu has hailed the judgment of the appellate court, describing it as a victory for democracy and the good people of Ogun East Senatorial District. “I dedicate this victory to the Almighty Allah ‘Sub ana wata’alla.’ I am happy at today’s (yesterday) verdict of the Court of Appeal. I am happy that justice has been served. I am particularly elated that the judiciary has once again risen to the occasion as the last hope of the common man. “I am happy that despite the ills of our society, the judiciary still boasts of men and women of integrity and great courage who can resist filthy lucre and stand up for the truth and justice. “I salute the good people of Ogun East Senatorial District who overwhelmingly gave me their mandate. I thank my party leaders, elders, associates and supporters, for standing by me all through the litigation. I thank my legal team, the media, clerics, the youths, students, artisans, okada riders, market men and women, for their best wishes, prayers and support.”
Dr. Alex Izion held brief for Senator Kashamu Buruji; while Mr. Ajibola Oluyede stood in for the PDP. Yussuf Alli,SAN, represented the first and second respondents, Prince Dapo Abiodun and the APC.