Osun State governor-elect, Ademola Adeleke, has assembled about 52 lawyers, including seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria, to defend his case at the Election Petition Tribunal in Osogbo.
Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, who contested the July 16 governorship election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, had asked the tribunal in Osogbo to nullify Adeleke’s election.
Adeleke was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the election.
Adeleke was returned elected by the Independent National Electoral Commission, after defeating his closest challenger, incumbent governor Oyetola, and 13 other candidates, scoring a total of 403, 371
Oyetola got 375, 027 votes and won in 13 Local Government Areas of the state to come second in the election.
Dr Alex Izinyon, Dr Paul Ananaba and Dr Onyeachi Ikpeazu are among the seven SANs defending Adeleke and other respondents.
While Izinyon would be leading another SAN and 16 other lawyers for the PDP, Ananaba would be representing INEC with two other SANs and 14 lawyers.
Ikpeazu would be leading another SAN with no fewer than 10 other lawyers to defend Adeleke.
While INEC and the PDP have filed their defences, Adeleke had yet to file his defence. Ananaba and Izinyon confirmed to our correspondent that they have filed their preliminary objections, while Ikpeazu’s telephone line indicated that it was switched off when contacted for a response.
Izinyon, in an interview with The PUNCH, said he filed a defence two weeks ago with preliminary objection on 35 grounds.
He said, “We have already filed a defence about two weeks ago.
We are leading the team and we filed a preliminary objection on 35 grounds but the petition cannot be entertained even on a preliminary issue.
Among the issues that Adeleke is not qualified and the issue they raised about his high school is being determined by the Court of Appeal which we started.
“You cannot bring it in because it has been determined and we also raised several grounds against the competency of the petition itself; why it cannot see the light of day on the three so-called grounds that were filed. First was the issue of qualification, the other two were on majority lawful votes and non-compliance. We have dealt with that.
“The case should be dismissed for lacking in merit. They itemised 10 Local Government Areas where they said there were overvoting out of 31 LGAs. They have even shot themselves on the leg because if you look at the vote coming out from there and compare with what they have, they cannot make a case out of it based on the grounds relied upon.”
A member of Oyetola’s legal team, Kunle Adegoke (SAN), said Adeleke had not responded.
He said, “We are expecting Senator Ademola Adeleke to file a defence which he is yet to do. He avoided service for a long time before we got an order from the court to serve him by pasting it on the board of the court, which we did.
“Now that he has been served, I believe that he must be working on his defence too. Hopefully, very soon, he will. Then, when he files, we will make the necessary application to the tribunal to start the pre-hearing session.
“We filed on August 6 and he has not responded. It was about two weeks before we were able to serve him. He is just wasting time.”
Oyetola had, in his petition, said the election was fraught with certain irregularities, adding that Adeleke ought not to have been declared the winner as he was not qualified to have contested the election in the first place, having submitted a forged certificate to INEC.