APC Rep candidate asks Osun tribunal to sack Ajilesoro of PDP

….alleges age, certificate falsification

By Jeleel Olawale

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for  Ife Federal Constituency in the recently concluded election, Engineer Benjamin Adereti has asked the Osun State House of Representatives and Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Osogbo, the State capital, to nullify the outcome of the February 25 House of Representatives election in Ife Federal Constituency, won by incumbent Hon. Taofeek Ajilesoro of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Adereti, in his petition marked EPT/OS/HR/02/2023 dated March 17th, 2023, urged the tribunal to nullify Ajilesoro’s victory on the alleged grounds that the PDP candidate was not qualified to run in the election.

The APC candidate, in his petition, contended that Ajilesoro’s emergence as winner “was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

“The 2nd respondent was not duly elected by the majority of the lawful votes cast at the election.”

The 1st petitioner (Adereti) based his petition on the ground that, the 2nd respondent (Ajilesoro) was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election.

He averred that the 2nd respondent did not possess the educational qualification to contest the election to the Ife Central, North, East and South Federal Constituency held on Saturday, 25th February, 2023 for having presented forged certificates to the first respondent.

The petitioner stated in his petition that the 2nd respondent in an affidavit in support of his personal particulars, whereof in Column C which required him to state the schools he attended beginning with Primary School and educational qualifications with dates, the second respondent only indicated when he graduated (1991) without stating the Primary and Secondary Schools he attended.

The APC candidate in the petition noted that the purported Primary School Testimonial of Osun State, Nigeria that bears Ajilesoro Taofeek A. was issued on 7th July, 1991 and West Africa Senior School Certificate bears Ajilesoro Bimbola are forged documents.

“There are contradictions in the names submitted to and the ones on his documents. As at 7th July, 1991 when the Primary School Testimonial of Osun State was issued, Osun State has not been created.

He argued that were irreconciliable contradictions in the age of the 2nd respondent on the Primary School Testimonial of Osun State submitted and the West African Senior School Certificate as well as on the Form EC9.

“The 2nd respondent therefore, in his Form EC9, declared falsely on the oath. The 2nd respondent having presented forged certificates to the 1st respondent, 2nd respondent was therefore not qualified to contest the election,” he argued.

The petitioner stated that the 2nd respondent was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast at the election and that the election of 2nd respondent was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the electoral Act 2022 and extant regulations.

According to the petitioner, the 1st respondent (INEC) failed to comply with the law where the total number of votes and never if accredited voters recorded in the respective Forms EC8A for 224 polling units do not tally with the numbers of accredited and verified voters on the record of the Biomodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) for the polling units.

He stressed that there was improper accreditation of voters in the said 224 polling units across the four Local Government Areas, as the presiding officers who are agents of the 1st respondent (INEC) at the polling units permitted voting in many of the units without accreditation with BVAS.

The petitioner further noted that there were cases of recording of valid votes in excess of number of accredited voters, deliberate voiding of valid votes of the petitioners by additional thumbprinting of their valid ballot papers.

He averred that upon deduction of unlawful votes in the stated polling units, it is the 1st petitioner that scored a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election and satisfied the constitutional requirements for elected as member, representing Ife Federal Constituency and ought to have been declared duly elected.

The 1st petitioner contended that the election of the 2nd respondent was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.

“The election in 224 polling units in the four local government areas, was characterized by widespread non-compliance with the Electoral Act and INEC regulations,” he said.

The 1st petitioner noted that the 1st respondent wrongfully made various unlawful entries and inscriptions not be recorded of lawful votes cast at the polling unit, which votes are liable to be voided.

The result declared by the 1st respondent in respect of the units did not reflect the authentic votes. The petitioners averred that computation of the total valid votes cast at the election will show that about 37,638 of the votes were not valid voters in the result declared by the 1st respondent.

The petitioners averred that but for the non-compliance, in the 224 polling units being challenged, the 2nd petitioner and her candidate, the 1st petitioner should have been declared as the winner of the election having polled the highest number of lawful votes cast at the election.

The petitioner prayed the tribunal to direct the 1st respondent to issue a certificate of return to the 1st petitioner as the duly elected as member, representing Ife Central/Ife North/Ide South/Ice East Federal Constituency.

He also asked the tribunal to declare null and void the Certificate of Return wrongly issued to the 2nd respondent by the 1st respondent.

The 1st petitioner asked the tribunal in the alternative to nullify or cancel the Ife Federal Constituency election held on 25th February, 2023  and the 1st respondent be directed to conduct a fresh election for Ife Central/Ife North/Ife East/Ife South Federal Constituency.

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