The Lagos State National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal has dismissed the case of the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the March 28, 2015 Lagos West Senatorial District election, Segun Adewale.
Adewale had been seeking an order nullifying the declaration of the All Progressive Congress’ candidate, Olamilekan Adeola, as the winner of the said election.
Adeola had been declared winner after polling 429,641 votes ahead of Adewale with 372,421 votes.
But apart from questioning the eligibility of Adeola to stand for the election, Adewale had claimed that the election was fraught with irregularities and malpractices.
For instance, he had urged the tribunal to deduct 91,641 votes from Adeola’s score, being the total votes polled in five local government areas where Adewale alleged there were malpractices.
His lawyer, Dr. Yemi Oke, had listed invalid nomination, void votes and falsification of results, as three grounds on which the tribunal must nullify the declaration of Adeola and the APC as the winner of the election.
But the three-man tribunal, headed by Justice Sylvanus Orji, adjudged his petition as lacking in merit and consequently dismissed it on Friday.
The tribunal said the petitioner failed to discharge the burden of proof on the allegations he had levelled by calling relevant witnesses.
“The evidence of the petitioner was not backed by witnesses.
“This fact which would have helped the tribunal was not available.
“The evidence of the only prosecution witness was devoid of any meaning and there were no facts to support paragraph one of the petition,” the tribunal held.
It added, “The petitioner did not explain why there was discrepancy in the results.
“We observed that the petitioner kept hammering on the respondents to call their witnesses forgetting that the burden of proof is on them them.”
The tribunal added that Adewale failed to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that Adeola was not validly nominated by his party, APC.
“Our view is that there is no evidence to show that the 1st respondent was not duly nominated by the second respondent.
“The law is trite that the submission of counsel cannot take the place of evidence,” the tribunal held.
Counsel for the APC and its candidate, Dr. Muiz Banire, had in his argument maintained that there was nothing in the documents tendered before the tribunal by the PDP and its candidate to establish any of the allegations that they had raised.
Banire, who noted that most of the allegations raised by the PDP and its candidate were criminal in nature, said the petitioners had failed to discharge the onus of proof placed on them.
In his own submission, counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. A. Adegoke, had followed Banire’s line of argument and urged the court to dismiss the petitioners’ case.