The National and State Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Iyaganku, Ibadan, affirmed the election of Abass Adigun for the Ibadan North East/South East Federal Constituency on Monday.
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 a cost of N1.5 million in favour of Mr Adigun (a.k.a. Agboworin) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A breakdown of the cost shows that Mr Adigun, PDP, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were each awarded N0.5 million.
Mr Lam-Adesina, a former member of the House of Representatives, approached the tribunal to challenge Mr Adigun’s qualification to contest the election. He also alleged that Mr Adigun did not win the majority of the lawful votes cast and requested the withdrawal of the Certificate of Return issued to him.
Additionally, he asked the tribunal to order the respondent to refund all the entitlements he had received.
In the alternative, Mr Lam-Adesina, who claimed that INEC did not conduct the election in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act, requested the annullment of the February 25 poll and the supplementary election on April 15.
Citing a report from an online search engine called Spokeo.com, the petitioner alleged that Mr Adigun forged his academic certificates, using different surnames, such as Mr Adigun and Amusat, in his WASC and Diploma Certificate. He further asserted that the second respondent also held both Nigerian and U.S. citizenship.
Yusuff Ogunrinde, the counsel for Mr Adigun, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition and affirm Mr Adigun’s victory, stating that all the grounds of the petition were unsubstantiated.
In the one-hour, 48-minute judgement read by Justice Yakubu, the tribunal found that the issue of Mr Adigun’s qualification for the election was a pre-election matter and therefore not within the tribunal’s jurisdiction.
Regarding the allegation of certificate forgery, the tribunal stated that the petitioners failed to produce original documents to substantiate their claims. The tribunal emphasised that using different names in various documents did not amount to forgery, and there was no convincing evidence to prove otherwise.
On the allegation of dual citizenship, the judge cited section 134 (1)(a) of the Evidence Act, stating that there was no evidence to disqualify the second respondent on this ground. INEC had cleared the second respondent based on his credentials, and no evidence was presented to challenge the ownership of the certificates.
“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 spokeo,” the judge said.
The tribunal dismissed the petition as baseless and lacking in merit, affirming the election that produced the second respondent.