Ondo State Election Tribunal Upholds Victory of Gboyega Adefarati in House of Representatives Election
In a decisive ruling on Thursday, the Ondo State Election Petition Tribunal, situated in Akure, upheld the triumph of Mr. Gboyega Adefarati, a member of the House of Representatives, in the House of Representatives election held on February 25, 2023.
Mr. Adefarati, who represents the Akoko South-East/Akoko South-West Federal Constituency, emerged as the victor of the election according to the pronouncement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He secured the win by defeating the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Kolawole Olugbenga, in the polls.
With a tally of 25,872 votes, Adefarati outperformed the PDP contender who garnered 18,403 votes during the election.
Dissatisfied with the election outcome, the PDP candidate initiated legal action by approaching the tribunal, seeking the annulment of Adefarati’s victory on the grounds that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had no valid candidate for the election.
Through his legal representative, Mr. Tolu Babaleye, Olugbenga petitioned the court, involving Adefarati, INEC, and the APC. He argued that the Federal High Court in Akure had nullified Adefarati’s primary on February 17, 2023, and directed INEC not to acknowledge the APC candidate in the February election.
In delivering her verdict, Justice Rose Soji declared that the petition lacked merit, particularly in light of the Court of Appeal in Akure overturning the decision of the lower court.
Justice Soji emphasized that the petitioner’s request carried the potential to induce judicial chaos, describing it as a clear example of a misuse of the judicial process.
She highlighted the tribunal’s constitutional obligation to enforce the appellate court’s judgment.
Justice Soji underscored that the Nigerian constitution mandates the enforcement of judgments from the Court of Appeal throughout the federation.
As a result, the tribunal dismissed the petition and imposed a fine of N150,000 against the petitioner, in favor of the respondents.
Reacting to the tribunal’s judgment, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, the APC Chairman in the state, hailed the decision as a victory for democracy.
Adetimehin lauded the verdict as an affirmation that ordinary citizens still retain faith in the country’s legal system.
Adetimehin voiced his perspective, stating, “One individual had put in substantial effort to secure the election victory, but the losing party sought to exploit technicalities to wrest control of the election outcome. Such actions are unjust.”
The tribunal’s ruling has effectively concluded the legal challenge and solidified Mr. Gboyega Adefarati’s position as the rightful winner of the House of Representatives election in the Akoko South-East/Akoko South-West Federal Constituency.