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APPEAL COURT UPHOLDS DANIEL'S ELECTION

By NBF News

Appeal Court upholds Daniel's election
From FRANCIS SUBERU, Ibadan
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel Photo: Sun News Publishing

The long drawn legal battle between the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) governorship candidate in Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the affirmation of the latter's election by the election tribunal was yesterday resolved against Ibikunle Amosun by the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Amosun had following the judgment of the state Assembly and Governorship Elections Tribunal at Abeokuta, which upheld the election of Otunba Gbenga Daniel filed an appeal against the judgment of the tribunal seeking four reliefs.

The reliefs included that the Appellate court vacate the judgment of the tribunal which upheld the election of Gbenga Daniel and return him (Amosun) as the governor of Ogun State.

In a unanimous judgment of the four-man panel of judges led by Justice Mohammed Garba, the Appellate court found no merits in all the 15 grounds of appeal filed by the appellant (Amosun) and therefore dismissed his suit.

'Having resolved all the issues against the appellant, the appeal is left without any merit and therefore dismissed. For the avoidance of doubt, the election returning Otunba Gbenga Daniel as the governor of Ogun State is hereby affirmed,' said Justice Garba.

Amosun had argued through his counsels, Dr. Wahab Oyewole that the tribunal's judgment was in error for its failure to come to term with the evidence of a witness referred to as PW41 and the failure of the tribunal to accept some exhibits as valid evidences before it.

Wahab and other counsels representing Amosun had argued that the tribunal's decisions to disqualify the witness on the ground that he was not an authority and did not possess any qualifications in election matters to make his evidence credible was not tenable under the law, adding that the quality of a witness matters than his quantity.

Amosun's counsels equally said it was wrong for the tribunal to abandon some of the exhibits tendered at the tribunal. They attacked the tribunal's decision that the allegation of violence and snatching of ballot boxes were not criminal in nature and as such the appellant was not obliged by the law to prove the allegation beyond any reasonable doubt.

But Otunba Daniel's lead counsel, Professor Taiwo Oshipitan (SAN), claimed that the none admittance of the witness of PW41 by the tribunal was right.

He argued that the PW41's evidence was scientifically and statistically based and as such the witness had to prove that he was qualified to make the scientific analysis which he failed to do before the tribunal.

Professor Taiwo and his team also faulted the argument put forward by Amosun's counsels in the area of the abandoned exhibits and allegation of violence saying that the appellant failed to link the importance of the exhibits to the merit or demerits of the case.

Professor Oshipitan said the allegations of violence and ballot snatching on the day of the governorship election in 2007 was criminal in nature and needed to be proved beyond reasonable doubts.

In the lead judgment and other judgments of the court, the Judges found merits in the arguments of Daniel's counsels. On the issue of disqualification of a witness (PW41), the court averred that since the nature of the evidence to be given was scientific and statistical, the burden of proof of the witness' expertise on the field was necessary. They said the witness failed to do this and even contradicted himself under cross examination.