The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Friday dismissed the petition filed by the Action Alliance’s (AA) candidate in the March 18, 2023 election, Babatunde Ajala, against Governor Seyi Makinde’s victory.
The three-man tribunal, led by Justice Ejiro Emudainohwu, in a unanimous ruling dismissed the petition and awarded a cost of N600,000 against him.
The tribunal awarded a cost of N100,000 in favour of INEC, and N250,000 each in favour of Governor Makinde and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In the petition, INEC was the first respondent, while Governor Seyi Makinde was the second respondent. The PDP was the third respondent.
A senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Kunle Kalajaiye, represented Governor Makinde, while Isiaka Olagunju (SAN) was the counsel for PDP.
Counsel to AA and its candidate, Etibo Orowo King, had informed the tribunal that the party and its candidate had decided to discontinue the case. He then urged the tribunal to strike out the case in the interest of the state.
He said, “My prayer is for the cancellation of the result of the election. But, on further reevaluation, we decided to discontinue the case in the interest of peace and tranquility.”
But Counsel to the governor urged the tribunal to dismiss the case.
He said, “The petitioner asked that the case be struck out. We want the case to be dismissed. It is a petition that is dead on arrival.”
The PDP counsel aligned himself with the position of Otunba Kalejaiye. The tribunal subsequently dismissed the petition.
Speaking with journalists after the judgment, Kalejaiye said: “It was the final end of the petition brought by Action Alliance against the emergence of Governor Seyi Makinde in the March 18 election.”
“The petition was essentially to ask for a rerun of the election on the basis that the candidate that was cleared for the election was not the candidate that was filled by the party.
“The petition was filed, and we responded to it, only for us to come this morning and find out that the party and the candidates claimed that they had looked at the petition again and they were not sure that they would succeed and they brought an application to withdraw the petition.
“We are convinced that it was when they saw our response to the petition that they made up their minds on the un-viability of the petition because we attached 18 grounds to our response and that culminated into what happened today. The tribunal has dismissed the petition and has awarded costs against Action Alliance (AA).
“But there is one thing that is very clear which I made known to the tribunal. Candidates and political parties who performed abysmally in an election should not be allowed to come to court to waste judicial time. Where a political party only scored 387 votes and challenged a person who scored 563, 617 votes in all the 33 local governments is a waste of judicial time.
“The Electoral Act needs to be amended to create a threshold that if you have not scored at least a quarter of all the total votes cast in a state you should not come to the election tribunal.
“The three judges left their jurisdictions to come and sit for a petition that is dead on arrival. So, only serious petitioners will have access to court. This is a call for the amendment of the Electoral Act.”