By Timothy Agbor, Osogbo
The Chairman, Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Elizabeth IKpejime on Thursday, 8th January, 2015 quashed the petition of the Accord Party candidate in the August 9th Governorship Election in the state, Barrister Niyi Owolade.
Owolade had withdrew the petition thus necessitating the dismissal.
The Chairman of the tribunal, while ruling on the application for withdrawal dated Thursday, 8th January, 2015, demanded the petitioner to tender apology to the tribunal and award N50,000 each as cost against the petitioner for each of the defendants.
The petitioner had stated among other things that the statutory time allocated for the sittings of the Tribunal may likely expire on 25th February 2014; that he has not given his evidence in chief before the tribunal which would likely take several days because of the rigorous cross- examination and that the tribunal may not likely have sufficient time to consider the petition in view of the time constraints highlighted above coupled with the other pending petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate which is yet to be concluded.
In moving the motion which was not accompanied by any written address contrary to the provision of the Electoral Act and practice direction, the petitioner’s counsel B.J Adedayo sought the leave of court to first withdraw the earlier motion filed dated 22nd December, 2014 seeking for the same relief in view of the latest application which the court graciously struck out after ascertaining that there was no objection to the application.
While replying orally to the application for withdrawal, the 1st Respondent’s counsel, Wale Afolabi stated that while not objecting the application, there was need to put certain record straight as the grounds upon which the application is based as well as the affidavit in support is predicated on falsehood.
According to him, it was a calculated attempt by the petitioners to transfer his failure to diligently prosecute his case to the court.
He reminded the court that all adjournment had been at the instance of the petitioner for one flimsy excuse or the other.
Afolabi therefore urged the court to grant their application with substantial cost. He proposed N5 million cost in favour of the 1st Respondent.
Ajibola Basiru, counsel for the 2nd Respondent in his own submission stated that the application of the petitioner was contemptuous of court and the ground of the application as well as affidavit in support should be deprecated by the court as it represented nothing but lies and an unwarranted assault on this tribunal.
He went on further to state that the ground upon which the application was predicated was speculative, hypothetical and frivolous and that what was in the court record was different from the fact deposed to in the affidavit.
He said that the petitioner had scored a paltry 377 votes out of over 700,000 votes cast in the election seeking to nullify the election with his miserable figure.
He further stated that the deposition by Owolade was contemptuous and the court should invoke its disciplinary jurisdiction against him. He urged the court to dismiss the petition instead of merely striking it out.
According to Ajibola, the court should not only award cost, they should also award wasted cost against the counsel because they have been so tardy with the prosecution of the case right from the beginning.
He therefore asked for the sum of N10 million as cost against the Petitioner.
The 3rd Respondent’s counsel, Ayotunde Ogunleye in his submission described the application especially the grounds and the affidavit in support as an affront on the administration of justice and an attempt to destroy the legal system which all of us are product of.
According to him, it would have been safer for the petitioner to honourably withdraw his case without stating any ground as the ground stated here are nothing but fabrication aimed at ridiculing the judicial process. He urged the court to dismiss the case with substantial cost of N25 million.
While reacting to the application for cost, the counsel to the petitioner agreed that cost follows event but proposed the sum of N5000 each for all the respondents.
At this stage the court asked him to address the court on the grounds of his petition and the affidavit in support.
The court asked him who complained to him that they could not conclude his petition. At that point, the Petitioner apologized to the tribunal for the content of the grounds and the affidavit in support.
The tribunal, while giving its ruling, agreed with Ajibola Basiru that the ground upon which the Petitioner’s application was based was frivolous and contemptuous of court. They held that the Petitioner from day one had shown lack of seriousness to prosecute his case even when he had the whole time in the world to do so.
They reminded the petitioners that he had spent eight days out of its statutory 14 days without calling a single witness. He had consistently asked for adjournment for one reason or the other without taking into consideration the limited time he had for his case.
The tribunal however held that in view of the Petitioner’s apology in the open court they forgive his intransigence. The tribunal while dismissing the petition stated that hearing has begun in this case where the petitioner has tendered so many documents admitted as Exhibits.
The tribunal also awarded N50,000.00 each as cost against the petitioner for each of the defendants.