The National and State Houses of Assembly Election Tribunal commenced hearing on 18th May, 2023 in respect of the petition filed by the New Nigeria Nigeria People’s Party and its candidate, Hon. ABDULFATAHI JIMOH challenging the return of Tijanni Ismail, the All Progressives Congress candidate who was returned as the winner of the said election.
The NNPP and its candidate had predicated their case on the sundry of electoral malpractices and non-compliance with electoral Act, 2023 in the conduct of the said election.
The case which was filed by the candidates of the New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP, for the seat of Offa/Oyun/Ifelodun federal constituency has The NEW NIGERIA PEOPLE’S PARTY AND ABDULFATAHI JIMOH as the petitioners and The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, All Progressives Congress APC and Hon. TIJANI ISMAIL as its respondents.
It is an election in respect of the office the Representative of IFELODUN/Offa/Oyun Federal Constituency preside over by a panel of three judges of Honourable Justice Azuah( Chairman of the Tribunal) Abdulmalik(member) and Bashir( Member).
The fulcrum of the Petitioners’ case is that the Independent National Electoral commission had excluded the Petitioners’ party name and logo from the ballot paper used for the conduct of the said election.
The learned Counsel for the petitioners, Barr. Tahir Aduagba called four witnesses at the resumed proceeding of 18th May, 2023. He tendered some documents in proof of his case and also indicated that INEC has refused to produce the certified true copies of those essential documents. Meanwhile, the Tribunal reserved the objection in respect of the documents till the final judgment and admitted the documents tentatively and marked them accordingly as Exhibits before it.
Further hearing in the petition was resumed today wherein Barr. Aduagba who led Ahmed Lawal Esq for the petitioners. The lead counsel for the Petitioners, Tahir Aduagba Esq called the remaining two witnesses as listed on the order of witnesses earlier filed in compliance with the pre-trial report and scheduling. The witnesses were firmed in their position as they maintained through out the cross-examination that their complaint of exclusion of name and logo was not attended to by the INEC official which prevented majority of their supporters from voting during the election and thereby whittled down their party’s success to a mere naught. The witnesses were also consistent in describing the formation of their party logo and indicated that several other political parties that do not usually include their party’s name on their logo had their party’s names and logos printed on the ballot paper used for the said election. It was said that NNPP was conspicuously omitted by INEC coupled with exclusion of its logo which ultimately led to the disenfranchisement of some of their supporters whose number was more than half of the remaining people that voted at the various polling units across the Constituency.
The last witness was discharged and counsel for the petitioners closed his case. The case was further adjourned to 31st May, 2023 for the defence of the 1st Respondent.