The National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting at Iyaganku, Ibadan, Oyo State capital, on Monday, affirmed the election of Adekunle Abass Adigun of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) into the House of Representatives for the Ibadan North East/South East federal constituency.
The tribunal dismissed the petition filed by Adedapo Lam-Adesina of All Progressives Congress (APC), challenging the victory of Adigun in the February 25, 2023 election.
The panel comprising Justices A.M. Yakubu (chairman), K.I. Okpe and Jibril Anaja, awarded N500,000 each in favour of Adigun, the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), against Lam-Adesina and his party – the APC.
Lam-Adesina had filed the petition through his counsel, Akinyemi Olujinmi, challenging the qualification of Adigun to contest the election, and that he did not win the majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
Lam-Adesina, a former member of the House of Representatives asked that the Certificate of Returns issued to the second-term Adigun be withdrawn, and all the entitlements he had enjoyed be refunded to the House of Representatives. He also claimed that the election was not conducted by the INEC in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, and therefore, prayed that the February 25 and the supplementary election of April 15, 2023 be nullified.
Relying on a report from an online search engine tagged, Spokeo.com, Lam-Adesina and the APC alleged that Adigun forged his academic certificates using different surnames of Adigun and Amusat in his WAEC and Diploma certificates; more so that he holds dual citizenship of Nigeria and the United States of America.
Represented by Yusuff O. Ogunrinde, Abass and his party had urged the tribunal to discountenance the petition and dismiss it, noting that all the grounds upon which the petitioners sought reliefs were unsubstantiated, urging the tribunal to instead affirm the election of Adigun.
In the judgment read by Justice Yakubu, the tribunal found that the issue of qualification of Adigun for the election was a pre-election matter and so was not an issue for determination by the tribunal.
On the allegation that Adigun forged his certificates, the tribunal said that the petitioners failed in their evidence because they could not produce the original documents and juxtapose them with those considered fake.
On dual citizenship, the tribunal cited section 134 (1) (a) of the Evidence Act, saying that, “I have looked through the evidence, I could not see anywhere the respondent’s place of birth is proved not to be Ibadan. Can he then be said not to be a Nigerian citizen? It is not a ground for disqualification.
I am of the view that any other interpretation aside what is contained in the constitution does not hold water. The second respondent is a Nigerian by birth. That he acquired US citizenship does not extinguish the fact that he is a Nigerian by birth. I, therefore, cannot agree that the second respondent should be disqualified on grounds of dual citizenship. The election that produced the second respondent is hereby affirmed and the petition is dismissed”.