Appeal Court dismiss Adebutu, PDP’s allegation of vote-buying against Gov. Abiodun

The Court of Appeal has upheld the Ogun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal’s decision to dismiss the allegations of vote-buying and voter inducement against Governor Dapo Abiodun and the All Progressive Party.

The Court in its lead judgment read by Justice MB Idris, also affirmed the validity of Abiodun’s defense.

The allegation of vote-buying made by the People’s Democratic Party and its governorship candidate Ladi Adebutu was deemed belated and unsupported, leading to their dismissal.

On May 22, 2023, Adebutu and the PDP responded to Abiodun’s defense with allegations of vote-buying and claimed for the first time that Abiodun and the APC purchased votes in the March 18, 2023, Ogun State gubernatorial elections.

Upon receiving Adebutu’s response, Abiodun’s legal team submitted an application to the Tribunal, requesting the complete removal of the response or the elimination of specific paragraphs.

They argued that Adebutu and the PDP’s response violated Para 16(1)(a & b) of the Electoral Act Schedule and court pleading rules. The Tribunal sided with the Governor’s legal team and removed the entire response from Adebutu and the PDP.

During the proceedings, it became evident that Adebutu and the PDP’s allegation was a hastily concocted afterthought, following Abiodun’s substantial allegations supported by a police investigation report, indicating that Adebutu and the PDP engaged in vote-buying during the elections.

The aftermath of this situation saw Adebutu fleeing the country to avoid legal consequences. Meanwhile, other Ogun State party leaders are currently facing trial.

Today, the Court of Appeal confirmed the incompetence of the allegations of vote-buying in Adebutu’s response and consequently struck out paragraphs 21 to 24, 31 to 33, 36 to 37, and 39 to 44, leaving only a few remaining paragraphs.

Likewise, the Court of Appeal rejected the entire appeal filed by Adebutu and the PDP against the Ogun State Gubernatorial Election Petition Tribunal’s decision, which upheld the validity of Abiodun’s defense.

In his initial defense, Abiodun leveled allegations of electoral fraud against the PDP and Adebutu, regarding the March 18 governorship election. Instead of addressing these weighty allegations head-on, Adebutu’s legal team introduced their own counter-allegations of vote-buying (all of which have now been dismissed). They also sought to have the Tribunal disregard the Governor’s vote-buying accusations.

Adebutu and the PDP contended that their petition did not include allegations of vote-buying, thus Abiodun’s defense should not have included such claims. However, the Tribunal ruled that Governor Abiodun was not limited to the issues raised in Adebutu and the PDP’s petition, and he had the right to assert and substantiate claims of vote-buying against the PDP and its candidate. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision today, unanimously dismissing Adebutu’s appeal as lacking merit.

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