Tribunal upholds Sarakiís election 24/1/2009

Posted by Adekunle JIMOH, Ilorin on 2009/01/24 | Views: |

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Tribunal upholds Sarakiís election 24/1/2009

The hopes of the opposition in Kwara State to occupy the government house further dimmed yesterday as the reconstituted Governorship Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Ilorin dismissed the petition filed by the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) candidate, Miss Aminat Oyinkansola Saraki against the election of Dr Bukola Saraki of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the April 14,2007 governorship election in state.

The hopes of the opposition in Kwara State to occupy the government house further dimmed yesterday as the reconstituted Governorship Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Ilorin dismissed the petition filed by the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) candidate, Miss Aminat Oyinkansola Saraki against the election of Dr Bukola Saraki of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the April 14,2007 governorship election in state.

The tribunal also dismissed the argument of alleged exclusion of PPA and its candidate from the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for lack of substance.

Lead counsel to the petitioners, Barrister Dayo Akinlaja had filed an application before the tribunal seeking correction to the order of spelling of the full name of PPA.

The petitionersí side had erroneously referred to PPA as Peoples Progressive Alliance as against Progressive Peoples Alliance, which is on the INEC register.

The panel chairman had during the final addresses of the counsels in the petition, ordered the INECíS counsel to forward the register of political parties to the tribunal before the judgment day.

The defence counsels including the INECís lawyer, Olajide Ayodele SAN were unanimous in their prayers, urging the tribunal to discountenance the petitionersí fresh application.

During his final address, the petitionersí lawyer,Akinlaja prayed the tribunal to uphold the petition and grant the prayers of the petitioners, insisting "this petition presents a no contest situation. The third (INEC) and fourth (Resident Electoral Commissioner) respondents have admitted unequivocally in their address that the second petitioner was validly nominated."

"Having made that frank admission there is no other impediment in the way of this petition. The Supreme Court has in the case of Abubakar vs Yaríadua made it very clear that INEC has no right on its own to disqualify any candidate in an election", Akinlaja further submitted.

In his submission while adopting his final address, Governor Sarakiís Counsel Mr. Abdulwahab Egbewole urged the court to dismiss the prayer of the petitioners in its entirety.

He equally prayed the tribunal to discountenance the reply of the petitioners to the addresses filed by his client, saying that the reply was a mere repetition of the petitionerís main address.

He said that the petitioners wrongly transferred the onus of proof of section 32 of the Electoral Act to the respondents in their reply to respondentsí address.

Dismissing the petition in a unanimous judgment, the Chairman of the four-man panel, Justice Ayuba Garuba Kwajafa stated that law as filed by the petitionersí counsel did not know Peoples Progressive Alliance, as the Progressive Peoples Alliance was the authentic registered political party, which is jurisditic.

Application for amendment of name therefore was refused and dismissed.

Justice Kwajafa further held that "the counsel must properly handle that election petition being generic as a matter of fact."

According to him, the main respondent challenged Oyinkansolaís locus standi effectively because Peoples Progressive Alliance was not known to law as a political party that participated in the election. Therefore, the party cannot sponsor a candidate, he submitted.

The tribunal further ruled that Oyinkansola presented two running mates whose names are Julius Abiola and Sunday Owolabi respectively, but none of them appeared before INEC screening committee.

While the tribunal took cognizance of the letter of nomination of Oyinkansola dated January 18, 2007, it also took cognizance of the INEC argument that she was validly nominated but deemed to have abandoned her candidacy by the non appearance of her running mates for screening.

He averred that the name presented was Oyinkansola Aminat Oluseun in the papers filed with INEC and not Aminat Oyinkansola Saraki.

After recounting the four stages needed to be satisfied by the candidate

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