The National and State Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Iyaganku, Ibadan, on Monday, affirmed the election of Abass Adigun also known as Agboworin for the Ibadan North East/South East Federal Constituency.
The tribunal dismissed the petition filed by Adedapo Lam-Adesina of the All Progressives Congress (APC), challenging Adigun’s victory in the February 25 poll.
The tribunal dismissed the petition and awarded N1.5 millon cost in favour of Adigun (a.k.a. Agboworin) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A breakdown of the cost showed that Adigun, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were awarded N.5 million each.
Lam-Adesina, a former member of the House of Representatives, had approached the tribunal to challenge Adigun’s qualification to contest the election.
He also alleged that Adigun did not win the majority of the lawful votes cast at the election and requested that the Certificate of Return issued to him be withdrawn.
He further asked the tribunal to order the respondent to refund to the House, all the entitlements he had enjoyed.
In the alternative, Lam-Adesina, who claimed that INEC did not conduct the election in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, asked that the February 25 poll and that of the supplementary of April 15 be annulled.
Relying on a report from an online search engine tagged: Spokeo.com, the petitioner alleged that Adigun forged his academic certificates, using different surnames, such as Adigun and Amusat, in his WASC and Diploma Certificate.
He further asserted that the second respondent also held Nigeria and the U.S. citizenship.
Mr Yusuff Ogunrinde, the Consel for Adigun, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition and affirm Adigun’s victory, saying that all the grounds of the petition were unsubstantiated.
In the one hour, 48 minutes judgment read by Justice Yakubu, the tribunal said it found that the issue of Adigun’s qualification 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 they considered fake.
“Adigun was used 23 times in different documents and Abass and Amusat used 8 times, he was not even criminalized for using the names.
“Use of more than one name is even long settled and no law forbids anybody for using more than one name.
“There was no convincing evidence that the second respondent is not the owner of the names.
“It does not tantamount to forgery.
“To forge is to make another copy of the original, to fabricate or deceive.
“The petitioners did not present the original and the forged copies of the said documents,” the Judge said.
On the allegation of dual citizenship, the judge cited section 134 (1)(a) of the Evidence Act, saying, “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 tribunal said.
It further resolved that Adigun is a Nigerian by birth and that acquiring the U.S. 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 the ground of dual citizenship.
“INEC cleared the second respondent through his credentials.
“There was no evidence adduced that he is not the owner of the certificates presented.
“The first petitioner even said in his evidence that he does not know anything about spoke,” the judge said.
The tribunal, therefore, dismissed the petition as baseless and lacking in merit.
Accordingly, it ruled that “the election that produced the second respondent is hereby affirmed and the petition is dismissed”.