Ogun election petition tribunal admits PDP exhibits on allegations of vote buying, U.S. conviction against Governor Abiodun

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The Ogun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has admitted as exhibits documents and video clips presented by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu, in their petition being heard by the tribunal in Abeokuta, the state capital.

The petitioners are challenging the return of Governor Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the 18 March election.

The exhibits tendered by Mr Adebutu’s counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), on Wednesday included alleged record of jail booking, an incident report of the Florida Metropolitan Police in the United States and pictures of an alleged ballot box snatcher during the election.

The court also permitted the petitioner to play the video record showing ballot papers, boxes and other election materials being burnt allegedly on election day in Ogun State.

Mr Uche had called as witness the youth leader of the PDP in the state, Oyejide Sunkanmi, to give evidence on Wednesday..

Mr Oyejide, in his witness statement on oath, said the alleged jail booking record and incident report from the Florida Metropolitan Police concerned Mr Abiodun.

It would be recalled that the party had,during the campaigns, alleged that Mr Abiodun was jailed in 1986 for credit card fraud in Florida, USA. The governor had dismissed the allegation.

The tribunal also admitted in evidence a preloaded top up credit card allegedly used for vote buying during the election by the APC.

In a related development, he federal government had on July 10 charged Mr Adebutu himself and nine others before the state high court for allegedly buying votes during the election. The charges arose from a petition to the police by the APC in Ogun State, over which the police said Mr Adebutu declined their invitation for a statement..

On Wednesday at the tribunal, counsel to INEC, Remi Olatubora (SAN); counsel to Mr Abiodun, Taiwo Osipitan (SAN); and APC counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), reserved their objections to the admissibility of the documents till their final written addresses.

However, the three respondents objected to the admissibility of the video evidence.

Mr Osipitan, in his objection, described the video evidence as hearsay.

But Mr Uche said the tribunal needed to admit the document before it could determine whether it is hearsay or not.

After over an hour of argument by the lawyers over the admissibility of the video evidence, the court had adjourned till Thursday for a ruling on the issue.

At the resumed sitting on Thursday morning, the panel ruled to admit the video evidence.

The petitioners’ counsel then prayed the court to allow their witness to play the video as demonstrative evidence in the court.

Despite the objections of Messr Olatubora and Osipitan, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Hamidu Kunaza, ruled that the video be played.

The petitioners have so far called 91 witnesses even as the sitting continued as of the time of filing this report on Thursday.

Credit: Premium Times

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