Ladoja vs Ajimobi: Appeal Court reserves judgement in Oyo guber tussle
By; Bayo Akamo ,Ibadan.
Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan on Wednesday reserved its judgment in the appeal suits filed before it by Senator Rashidi Ladoja and the Accord Party to challenge the October 27, 2015 judgment of the state election petition tribunal which dismissed his petition as it adopted Senator Ladoja and Accord briefs.
The court at its sitting which lasted for over five hours in suits no CA/IB/EPT/GOV/31/2015 and CA/IB/EPT/GOV/31A/2015 allotted 15 minutes each to counsels to argue their briefs.
Lead Counsel to Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Chief Robert Clark, (SAN), prayed the court to dismiss the judgment of the tribunal against his clients on the ground that the lower court excluded the evidence of its clients’ principal witness.
According to Chief Clark the tribunal excluded the evidence of the principal witness (PW1Bimbo Adepoju), of the appellant which was vital to the petition, saying, Pw1 tendered 129 exhibits within five days which was not objected to by the counsel to the respondents, wondering why evidences provided by PW1 was not catered for in the judgment.
He said the tribunal was wrong to state that the documents were merely dump on the court and that the PW1 was not an expert, adding that there were many Appeal Court judgments which never stated that one need to be an expert before inspecting electoral materials, adding that PW1 holds a Masters’ degree in Statistics contrary to the judgment of the tribunal which referred to him as a mere farmer.
Chief Clark asked the Court to allow the appeal brought before him and dismissed the judgment of the lower Tribunal, saying, “the fundamental issue is the rejection of the evidence of pw1 which is the foundation of our case”.
“Once you rejected the evidence which you yourself admitted, it means you are not ready to look into the merit of the case. Because the important thing is that he did not only give oral evidence, he submitted documentary evidence and we felt even if you say that there are contradiction in his evidence, the document speaks for it selves and they should have looked into the document.
“We based our brief on three grounds. First, PW1 evidence which was rejected by the tribunal. We feel the tribunal was wrong in excluding his evidence having admitted them in the procedures and late on not giving credibility to it. Secondly, The tribunal claimed that PW1 just dumped all the exhibits he brought on them and did not give evidence which belies the record that we have presented before the court today and thirdly, the evidence submitted by PW1 were procured during the pendency of the tribunal and which law does not apply to this particular type of civil matter,” he said.
Lead counsel to Accord party, Prince Aderemi Olatubora in the second brief CA/IB/EPT/GOV/31A/2015, said the prayer of its client, is to declare Senator Rashidi Ladoja as the governor of Oyo State, saying,” this Court of Appeal should evaluate the documentary evidence placed before the lower tribunal which it failed in its duty to evaluate.
“The lower tribunal took umbrage in what it termed as contradiction in witnesses statements. What we are saying is that those witnesses statements were based on documents tendered before the tribunal and then the tribunal failed to evaluate and even to test the veracity of those oral evidence using the documentary evidence as hanger as the law require them. We are asking the court to re evaluate those documents or reevaluate the evidence placed before lower tribunal and allow the appeal to set aside the decision of the lower tribunal and declare Ladoja the winner of the governorship election of Oyo state.”
Counsel to Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Chief Wole Olanipekun, (SAN) in his response said the evidence of PW1 of the appellant was irrelevant, as there were contradictory evidence by the PW1 during cross examination, an area which the appellant failed to appeal against.
Stressing that PW1 was however not the leader of the team that inspected the material, Chief Olanipekun urged that the application brought before the court to substitute the name of the leader of the team that inspected the electoral material during the hearing of the case be struck out and that the court should dismiss the appeal and uphold the judgment of the tribunal.
In their separate submissions, counsel to APC and INEC, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, (SAN) and Mallam Yusuf Ali, (SAN), respectively, aligned with the submission of Olanipekun.
Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, told the court that what they are praying was that the court should not grant the appeal of the appellant, saying,”the appeal should not be granted. We (counsel to respondents) are saying don’t grant the appeal and the appellant is saying grant the appeal.”
After listening to the counsel in the suit, Justice H.S. Ogunjimiju said the court will communicate the date of its ruling on the appeal to them.