For filling out of time, the Ogun State Local Government Election Petition Tribunal in Abeokuta has dismissed all 12 petitions filed by the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), which sought to declare the chairmanship seat for 11 local government areas in the election held on July 24, 2021, null and void.

The NNPP had dragged the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC), the All Progressives Congress

(APC), and the elected chairmen in 11 council areas seeking the nullification of the exercise.

The affected council areas are Yewa South, Yewa North, Ado-Odo/Ota, Ewekoro, Ifo, Abeokuta North, Obafemi-Owode, Imeko-Afon, Odeda, Ijebu North as well as the councillorship election of Ward 14 (Imala) Abeokuta North Local Government Area.

The petitioner prayed the tribunal to among others things, determine and declare that the 11 chairmen and Imala ward 14 councillor were not duly elected, and ought not to have been returned.

The petitioner also sought an order directing the first respondent, OGSIEC, to withdraw the Certificates of Return issued to the elected officers or in the alternative, issue an order for a fresh election in all the polling units mentioned in the petition.

In their separate Notices of Preliminary Objections filed before the tribunal, OGSIEC contended among other grounds that the petitions filed were not competent in that they were status barred, having been filed outside the time prescribed by the Electoral Law of Ogun State 2006.

Similarly, the second and third respondents, having entered conditional appearance on October 25, 2021, prayed the tribunal also for an order striking out the various petitions on the ground of incompetence, to wit non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Law of Ogun State, 2006 and the First Schedule of the Electoral Act.

Delivering the judgement in six of the petitions, the Chairman of Panel B of the Tribunal, Otunba P. Onafadeji, maintained that the petitioner failed to file its petition within 14 days as stipulated in Section 86 of the Electoral Law of the state as amended.

According to Onafadeji, “It is the considered view of this tribunal that the petitions were not initiated by due process of the law, no matter how well couched or the likelihood of its merit. We, therefore, hold that this petition, having not being initiated within the time allowed by the Law under Section 86 of the Electoral Law of Ogun State, 2006, is incompetent and thus, this tribunal is not competent to entertain same.”

The tribunal held that time was of essence in dealing with election matters as the spirit of various laws relating to election petition was that as much as possible, “petitions should be given expeditious adjudication to enable the parties know their position, the society know the result of the election in which they have voted, as such, the Preliminary Objection on the sole issue formulated succeeds and consequently, the petition dated August 10, 2021, but filled on the October 22, 2021, is hereby dismissed and awarded N25,000 in favour of each of the respondents.”

Reacting to the ruling, OGSIEC Chairman, Mr. Babatunde Osibodu, said the ruling was a good omen for the commission, adding that results of the 2021 local government elections held on July 24, 2021 was declared and announced immediately, and the Chief Justice of the state expeditiously set up Election Tribunal in order to ensure compliance with the Electoral Law of Ogun State, which prescribes that all petition must be filed within 14 days of the declaration of the results, which the petitioner failed to comply with and its legal representatives hinged their argument on.

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