Tribunal retains Oni as Ekiti governor
By Ayo Okulaja
May 5, 2010 04:17PM
The Ekiti State Election Tribunal on Wednesday declared the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Segun Oni as the winner of the 2009 re-run election in the state.
The majority of the tribunal members in a split decision claimed that, Mr. Oni defeated the Action Congress candidate, Kayode Fayemi with 3,000 votes.
Reading the lead judgment, the tribunal’s Chairman, Hamman Barka declared Mr. Oni as the winner with 109,000 votes to Mr. Fayemi’s 106,000 after deductions of 3 – 2 in favour of Oni.
The lead ruling upheld results of all polling units in contested wards except for 5 polling units in Ipoti A & 4 polling units in Orin/Ora Ward while it nullified results of unit 6 in Ifaki Ward.
It also disregarded the resignation of the state’s election commission, Ayoka Adebayo saying her resignation was “not valid and represents a mere assertion of the petitioners.” Mrs. Adebayo resigned during the collation of results in Ekiti state while the election results were being collated saying “she doesn’t want to go against her conscience.” The petition was filed by Kayode Fayemi of the Action Congress (AC) against the re-run election in the state claiming the election was rigged in favour of Mr. Oni.
Ekiti: In Split Judgment, Oni Wins
•Fayemi vows to appeal
From Toba Suleiman in Ado-Ekiti, 05.06.2010
The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, yesterday upheld the election of incumbent Governor Segun Oni, thereby dismissing the petition filed by the Action Congress (AC) Governorship candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
But two of the five judges disagreed with the judgement delivered by the Chairman of the five-man tribunal, Justice Hamma Barka, saying Fayemi should have been declared the winner.
Also, Counsel to the petitioner (Fayemi), Chief Anthony Adeniyi, has declared that his client would appeal the ruling.
Barka, who led two other Justices that upheld Oni’s victory said the petitioners had failed in all ramifications to prove evidence of substantial electoral malpractices, irregularities and violence signficant enough to nullify the entire result of the election.
Three Justices namely Barka, Sulaiman Kikko and Mohammed Goji upheld the election while Abiodun Adebara and Obane Ogbunyan gave dissenting views.
Six wards in two local governments of Ido-Osi,( Usi, Orin/Ora, Ifaki 1/2 wards and Ijero (Ipoti A/B) wards were being contested.
According to Baraka, the ground of his nullification of the petition were: the petitioners were unable to prove the allegations of non-compliance with the electoral act; inability to prove that Oni was not elected and did not have majority votes; and allegation of criminality against the respondents.
In his four-hour judgement, Barka upheld the results in some wards of the two local governments but nullified the results in units 1,2, and 6 in Usi ward of Ido-Osi and Ipoti ward B, unit 1,3, 5 and 6.
On the evidence provided by Witness 43, Peter Oladosu aka Erimoje, on the burning of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office, Ido-Osi, Barka held that all the evidences provided were all after thought.
According to him, although the evidences provided by both petitioners and the respondents proved that the office was actually set ablaze. there was overwhelming evidence that the INEC office was actually set ablaze by the agents of the petitioners.
On allegations of bribery and corruption leveled against respondents, Justice Barka said that since such allegation was also a criminal allegation, the onus is also on the petitioner to prove it beyond reasonable doubt. On the alleged brutalization of journalists and some election observers, the judge the said journalists were not professional media men.
Furthermore, he stated that the allegation of amputation of witness 42, whose right leg was amputated during the fracas at Ido-Osi could not be linked to the respondents 7/8. He said the allegation was in favour of the respondents.
While dismissing the petition Barka maintained that the allegation of non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2006 could not be substantially proved. The total result of the votes cast in the six wards was AC 106,868, while that of the first respondent was 109,335, he said.
He noted that Oni therefore led the petitioner with the marging of 2,467 total votes cast. He added that in view of this, the petition failed.
However, while presenting a dissenting judgment, Adebara dismissed Barka’s judgment. He urged that Fayemi be declared the winner of the election and the certificate of return issued to Oni be withdrawn by INEC and handed over to Fayemi.
Justice Adebara based his argument on three grounds: non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2006; bribery and corruption; and inability of the petitioner to prove that Oni was not elected on the basis that he did not win the majority votes.
He also argued that the burden of proof of allegation of corruption, which he said was a criminal act, was not on the petitioner as argued by the respondent. While giving the break down of the results unit by unit, Adebara said the elections held in Ipoti ward A be cancelled, having been discovered that five of the eight wards were substantially affected, just as he cancelled all results in Ipoti ward B.
On Ido-Osi local government, Adebara said accreditation during the election is the basis for the such, saying where there is no accreditation as alleged by the petitioners was enough to nullify the result of such election. Also, he said the respondent was not able to prove that valid election took place in the affected wards, adding that election in Orin/Ora, Usi, Ifaki1/2 could not be proved on the basis of non-accreditation of voters.
On the burning of Ido-Osi INEC office, Adebara said the building was clearly burnt by suspected hoodlums. He also accused respondents 7/8 of not providing protection at the INEC office, giving room to the burning of the building.
Meanwhile, Oni has dedicated his victory to God and the people of Ekiti State, saying; “We thank God, the judiciary has once again lived up to expectations.” He thanked the people for their support and steadfastness and expressed his commitment to move the state forward.
But Fayemi has vowed to appeal the decision. According to Fayemi’s Counsel Adeniyi, who was in company with Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, said, “ We are appealing it. We are going to the appeal court.”
Adeniyi who had earlier thanked the members of the panel for being patient with all the parties prayed for God’s guidance for the members of the panel. While reacting to the judgments, he said, “I appreciate the patience of your lordships. God will reward each of you bountifully with the way you have handled us.”
Fayemi also stated that “We are happy with the judgment of Justices Adebara and Ogbuiya against the travesty delivered by Justices Hamman Barka, Goje and Dikko today at the Ekiti Elections Petitions Tribunal. The judgment of Adebara is a soothing balm on the frayed nerves of Ekiti people who were not given justice by the majority decision.”
He appealed to his supporters to remain calms. He continued: “For the first time in the history of the country, an election widely acclaimed for its violence and widespread irregularities and condemned by the International community was upheld by Justice Hamman Barka. It is not a loss to Dr. Fayemi or the Action Congress but to Nigeria which had become a laughing stock in the comity of decent States.
“Justice Adebara unveiled the travesty of Justice handed down to Ekiti people by dealing with all the issues in the petition which his colleagues merely glossed over. He showed to the whole world all the irregularities and the infractions characterized by the Ekiti gubernatorial rerun elections of April 25, 2009 which rendered the result invalid. By declaring Dr. Kayode Fayemi as the lawful winner of the gubernatorial election and supplementary election of Ekiti State while nullifying the return of Mr. Segun Oni. Justice Adebara has shamed Mr. Segun Oni and the PDP who thought they could enjoy the Greek gift handed to them by Justice Hamman Barka.”
In his own reaction, former Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti in a telephone interview described the judgement as “a judicial coup against democracy.” Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Governor of Ogun State Gbenga Daniel and the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Prince Vincent Ogbulafor were some of those who congratulated Oni.
In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Prof. Ahmed Alkali, the PDP said: “We salute the judiciary for yet another landmark decision in our march towards a sustainable democracy.”
PDP called on the people of the state to rally round Governor Oni in his determination to rapidly transform the State and develop it to its full potential. The party also appealed to the opposition to see the judgment as a fair representation of the peoples will and therefore join hands with Oni to deliver the much needed dividends of democracy to the people.
Monday, 10 May 2010 00:00 Remi Koleosho
THE atmosphere was calm and devoid of the usual tension at Tribunal Judgement premises, as only 25 members each of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Action Congress (AC) were allowed
into the court room 1, venue of the Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, last Thursday.
Heavy security equipment forced many indigenes of the state to stay indoors for fear of what could happen after the judgement, because of their experience on the day of adoption of result, the state capital wore the look of a state under siege, as over 6000 armed policemen, state security service, and other uniform personnel’s took over strategic position of the state capital.
The judgement lasted over seven hours, amidst tight security around the state capital in particular, stern looking security men were busy searching motorists and their vehicle for possible arms, while within the metropolis, motorists had to pass through series of check points few meters of each other.
The entrance to the Governor’s office and the court premises around the popular Adekunle Fajuyi park was condoned off by Armoured Personnel Carrier, (APC) stationed at the Okesa-Fajuyi intersection, leaving only accredited journalists, lawyers and officials of the 25 accredited members of the two political parties, who must be in their party buses being allowed to move beyond these points.
Detachment of Mobile Policemen moving in convoy patrolled the street which for most part of the day was traffic light, with only few commercial motorcycles and taxi cabs as well as private vehicles pliying the roads, while many shops and drinking bars were shot and many others which opened offered skeletal services, few civil servants reported for duty, particularly in the state secretariat and other government offices in the affected areas.
School children who showed up at school were sent back home for fear of what may happen after the judgement, while policemen dispersed gatherings of suspected miscreants.
Shortly after the judgement, several buses filled with PDP supporters raced out of government house shouting their party slogan, Power, Power, but their attempt to take their jubilation to the court premises was prevented by security agents who turned them back forcing them to wait for their leader, Governor Segun Oni and other party leaders at the governor’s office.
On the other hand, people suspected to be AC supporters were seen wearing long faces looking dejected, following their loss at the Tribunal seeking for whom to pacify them, as they looked in sorrow the train of PDP members jubilating, while some of them threatened photo journalists who attempted to take their photographs.
Putting the event of the last two weeks in perspective, Ekiti, indeed, may make history as a state where majority of its political actors especially between the opposition and the ruling party are worth watching, as the two major stakeholders may surprise the people of the state with their comedy.
Flying the first kite, the state government alleged that the Action Congress (AC) buried fetish objects in the High Court, Ado-Ekiti, venue of the Tribunal sitting, alleging that the AC ritualists carried out the dastardly act under the guise of waiting at the court for the tribunal judgement.
Making the allegation, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Wale Ojo-Lanre said names of the five tribunal judges were tied with fetish objects and buried in the court premises by the ritualists while the selected AC supporters were used as cover.
The government spokesman submitted that no one can get what God does not give to him, “but amused at the level of desperation of these AC political contractors.”
Ojo-Lanre wondered when the AC will stop testing the power of God, which he said they did in 2007 but failed, repeated during the 2009 rerun election but failed, yet they still remain resolute, “they (AC) relied on juju to secure favourable judgement at the tribunal, having failed to avail the tribunal with vital documents and evidences. Isn’t it time that they realized that Ekiti is in the hands of God and cannot be purchased by agents of the devil.”
The allegation was condemned by the opposition, the Director of Communication to Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation; Mr. Yemi Adaramodu described the allegation as laughable, saying that it was what the PDP-led government was doing that it was accused the AC of.
He said the PDP had become childish in its allegations and has risen to a disastrous height political imbecility, “the indignity of the PDP in Ekiti has bestowed them with childish tendencies,” he said.
He added that it was the PDP that relies on crooked means, “including juju, to strengthen their political unrighteousness. We believe they are plotting to do so, hence, the false alarm” and advised the PDP to disband the colonies of marabouts kept in one of their leader’s residence.
Also, in his reaction to the juju issue, the pioneer Speaker in the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Kola Adefemi described the AC as a gathering of diabolical people, advising them to desist from such approach so as to avert the wrath of God, submitting that the AC has turned consultation of oracles, spirits and demons to a booming business, while their operators and their conduit pipes are smiling to the banks, day old rams are virtually non-existent now, because they have been victims of sacrifice and sacrifices all over the AC camps.
However, on Wednesday, when the tribunal delivered its judgement, Oni narrowly escaped being booted out of office as only three of the five–man-member panel delivered judgement in his favour.
The dispute emanated from the controversies that trailed the April 2009 Rerun Governorship election in the State.
The AC has however vowed to challenge the outcome of the judgement at the Appellate Court.
The chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Hamman Barka along with two other justices: Mohammed Goji and Suleiman Dikko affirmed that Oni was validly elected in the Rerun election, thereby striking out the petition filed by Fayemi, the governorship candidate of the AC in the election.
Justice Barka also absolved the Police and the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) of any complicity in the conduct of the election, saying neither of them was found to have been found wanting in the discharge of their duties going by the available evidence before them.
Justices Abiodun Adebara and Obande Ogbuinya in their dissenting judgement ordered the INEC to declare Fayemi the winner of the election, having polled the majority of the lawful votes in the election.
Justice Adebara, who delivered the minority judgement that lasted three hours, did not only order that INEC should withdraw the Certificate of Return and issue it to Fayemi, it also lambasted the Police and the INEC over their conspiratorial roles in the election.
He posited that the INEC’s non-issuance of the Voters Registers in Ido /Osi to Fayemi to prosecute his case had evidently proved that it has a skeleton in its cupboard, just as it descended heavily on the Police for not arresting anybody in connection with the burning of INEC Office in Ido Ekiti, where the collation was to be done in the local government secretariat.
After the judgement, the situation in town was calm; as no side was allowed by the Police to troop to the streets to jubilate over the judgement, while the heavy presence of security agencies persisted.
Delivering the lead judgement, Justice Barka said the petitioner(Fayemi) failed in its entirety to prove beyond reasonable doubt the criminal cases of over-voting, ballot stuffing and snatching, as well as the issue of non-compliance contained in his petition.
He said, having alleged that the election was vitiated by those criminal issues, that the onus of proof lies on him to prove not only non-compliance, but the nexus between the perpetrators of the crimes and the respondent.
Discountenancing the averment of the petitioner that there were cases of electoral malpractices in Ipoti Wards A and B in Ijero Local Government Area of the state, Barka held that the petitioner failed to prove those allegations and the matter was therefore resolved against him.
But he aligned with the averment of the petitioner that accreditation is the life wire of any election, leading to the cancellation of the results recorded in some units of the two wards, which are: Unit 1 of Ward A, the results of Units 001, 003, 005,006, of the Ward B.
In Orin/ Ora ward in Ido/ Oso Local Government Area, results of units 001, 004, 006, 009, of that ward was also nullified, having fraught with cases of improper accreditation.
In Usi Ward, the result of unit 009 was cancelled, while other 15 units that comprises the Ward were sustained for lack of evidence to prove that they were marred with improper accreditation
In Ifaki Ward, the results in the eight units of the ward were validated by Barka, saying no cases of non-compliance and over voting was established, while the result of Unit 006 was cancelled in Ward B.
Having deducted the valid votes from the invalid from the total of the votes cast at both the rerun and the April 2007 election, Barka came to the conclusion that Oni was still leading with a total votes of 109, 335 while Fayemi polled 106, 868.
The Tribunal Chairman however indicted the AC and their agents of being behind the burning of the INEC Office in Ido Ekiti on the day of the election, saying the testimony of the Personal Assistant to Oni, Mr Bunmi Ojo in Court and his official report to the Police on the arson attack showed that the then Acting Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon Saliu Adeoti has a case to answer.
Barka said the evidence available before the Tribunal showed that Adeoti was seen at the collation centre in Ido Ekiti on that day with his convoy when he was not supposed to be there at that crucial time of collation.
But in his dissenting judgement, Adebara had a contrary view that the non-appendage of signatures on form EC8A by the Presiding Officer did not affect the outcome of the election, contending that any unsigned document has no evidential value and is of no probative value
He said, since Fayemi had alleged that no election known to law was conducted in the four wards being contested in Ido/ Osi Local Government that the onus of proof have shifted to the respondents
Adebara said he expected the respondents to adhere strictly to the order of the Tribunal by brining to the Tribunal the voters registers of Ido/ Osi Local Government to authenticate the issue of accreditation, which he believed was the most important aspect of an election.
The Judge in his ruling cancelled the election in the four wards in contention in Ido/Osi Local Government Area for lack of proper accreditation, saying the INEC was only hiding behind a finger by claiming that the voters register had been burnt.
He also said the signatures appended by the Agents of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Democratic People’s Party (DPP) and that of the National Democratic Party (NDP) on the form EC8A in Ifaki wards, when those political parties did not field any candidate for the election constitutes a breach of the constitution.
Alternatively, while resolving the issue of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, the Judge nullified the election in units 001, 002, 005 and 006 of Ward A in Ipoti and all the units in Ward B of the town for non-compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act.
In Ido/ Osi Local Government, the result of some units were also cancelled, the petitioner, according to the Judge substantially proved several cases of corrupt practices that vitiated the election results in those areas.
In conclusion, having deducted the lawful votes from the unlawful ones, Adebara said Fayemi polled 106,163 and Oni polled 103,200, with a margin of 2,963.
While declaring Fayemi the winner, Adebara said “the first petitioner has the highest number of lawful votes cast in the election. He also scored One-Quarter (1/4) in 15 Local Government areas of the state, having won in 11 Local Governments, so he has satisfied the constitutional requirement of section 179(2) of the 1999 constitution for him to be declared as the governor of Ekiti State
“Oni by our findings did not score the highest number of lawful votes cast in the election and his election is hereby nullified and we order the INEC to withdraw his Certificate of Return and give it to Fayemi”
Counsel to Oni, Chief Adebayo Adenipekun (SAN) and that of the PDP, Mr Obafemi Adewale as well as that of the Police, Chief Milton Ohwovoriole (SAN) thanked the Tribunal Judges for their patience, industry and high level of tolerance in the hearing of the petition.
They said the two judgements have actually widened their legal horizons and proved that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man.
The counsel to the petitioner, Chief Tony Adeniyi, who appreciated the Judges for their detailed and comprehensible judgements, said “We are grateful for your thoroughness and God we reward you the way you have handled us”.
Speaking with journalists after the ruling, the AC counsel, Adeniyi said the petitioner will surely challenge the outcome of the Tribunal judgement at the Court of Appeal in Ilorin, Kwara State, saying it was an opportunity to seek redress on the dissenting judgement that was delivered.
A former governor of the state, Dr. Ayodele Fayose, who condemned the judgement, said “PDP victory was a judicial coup against democracy. However, the people should keep hope alive and shun violence. It is not over until it is over”.
However, Oni has dedicated his victory at the Tribunal to God and the good people of Ekiti State, saying; “We thank God, the judiciary has once again lived up to expectation.”
Oni, who moved to the Government House Chapel with his wife, Olukemi, Deputy, Dr. Sikiru Tae Lawal and his wife, Oluyemisi, State Chairman of the PDP, Rot. Bola Olu Ojo and other top government functionaries for a thanksgiving service immediately after the judgement said he bears no grudge against anyone.
His words, “Ekiti is not a state to be captured by any external forces, which are only bent on adding Ekiti to the comity of their economic and political colony.
“Today, God again demonstrated His absolute power. He put to shame all the manipulations of evil forces that are bent on enslaving Ekiti State. God, in His infinite mercies proved that truth will always prevail over falsehood no matter how long it takes.
“I also salute the courage of the judiciary for putting an end to the evil machinations of those who believe that Ekiti State and the entire Nigeria can be purchased at any cost.”
He said the judgement has further demonstrated that the judiciary would always rise above sentiment and cheap propaganda with which public opinion are being manipulated by those who have substantial interest in the media.
The Oni’s deputy, Dr. Sikiru Tae Lawal in his own reaction also applauded the judgement, saying it has duly confirmed that his boss was the duly elected governor having polled the majority of the lawful votes cast in the elections, contrary to the prayers of Fayemi.
Special Adviser to the governor on Political and Intra Party Matters, Kola Adefemi said the majority judgement which is a product of deep erudition is a manifestation of light over darkness, thanking God and congratulating the people of the state.
His words, “As a Lawyer and a serious actor in the Ekiti political terrain, I know that this may not be the end of the Legal battle, because we are dealing with an opposition whose minds have been taken over by poverty. And so, desperation has set in especially at the leadership level.
“We in the PDP look forward to poaching a battle weary Army of opposition, a weather beaten and typhoon blasted AC members waiting in the wings for our invitation. We thank God”.
Also, the state Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Mr. Taiwo Olatubosun described the judgement as a victory for democracy and triumph for the masses, Olatunbosun expressed gratitude to the people of the state for their unflinching support for the Oni led administration, saying that it was the tremendous supports of the people for the governor they voted for during the general election in 2007.
The State Chairman of the PDP, Chief Boala Olu-Ojo described the judgement as the confirmation of the wishes of the people of the state.
“It also confirmed that the PDP is never known to be involved in any frivolity when it comes to election and governance and that is why the tribunal has ascertained the victory of Governor Oni,” he said.
The AC in its reaction said “We are happy with the judgement of Justices Adebara and Ogbuiya against the travesty delivered by Justices Harman Barka, Goje and Dikko at the Ekiti Elections Petitions Tribunal. The judgement of Adebara is a soothing balm on the frayed nerves of Ekiti people who were not given justice by the majority decision.
“For the first time in the history of the country, an election widely acclaimed for its violence and widespread irregularities and condemned by the International community was upheld by Justice Harman Barka.
“Justice Adebara unveiled the travesty of Justice handed down to Ekiti people by dealing with all the issues in the petition which his colleagues merely glossed over. He showed to the whole world all the irregularities and the infractions characterized by the Ekiti gubernatorial rerun elections of April 25, 2009 which rendered the result invalid, by declaring Dr. Fayemi as the lawful winner of the gubernatorial election and supplementary election of Ekiti State while nullifying the return of Mr. Oni”.
While some political parties, under the auspices of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) joined forces with Oni, some others within the group and some aggrieved PDP members, including the former Governor Fayose pitched their tents with Fayemi, which made the latest development more fierce, pulsating and highly intriguing.
The Justice Harma Barka led Tribunal reserved judgement about two weeks ago in the legal battle that lasted eleven months between Oni of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in the highly vilified Rerun Election, Dr Kayode Fayemi.
The security was beefed up to guide against the repeat of the alleged attack that followed the adoption of addresses when the AC candidate accused the ruling PDP of attacking his convoy, but failed to prove the allegation when asked to substantiate his claim as challenged by the PDP and the state government.
Oni wins again …As tribunal judges give dissenting verdicts
From MODESTUS CHUKWULAKA, Abuja
Thursday, May 06, 2010
By narrow margin, Ekiti State Governor, Segun Oni retained his seat as the Justice Hamman Barka-led election petition tribunal declared him winner of the April 25, 2009 and May 5, 2009 re-run governorship election in the state yesterday.
The tribunal delivered its judgment on the petition filed by Dr. Kayode Fayemi, governorship candidate of Action Congress (AC) challenging Oni’s declaration as governor by the Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) in the court-ordered polls resulting from a similar petition against Oni’s election in 2007.
Yesterday’s court’s verdict brought to a close an 11-month legal campaign by Fayemi to claim the mandate he believed was his.
The tribunal, in a split judgment of three to two affirmed that Oni won the majority votes in the polls, saying the petitioner failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt some of the grounds of his petition.
However, in a minority decision, two of the judges, Justices Abiodun Adebara and Obande Ogbuninya nullified Oni’s election and declared Fayemi as the winner. To boot, they ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Oni and issue a fresh one to the petitioner.
In the lead judgment, Justice Barka, upheld Oni’s election, saying he scored a total votes of 109, 231 against AC’s candidate’s 106, 868.
He arrived at the figure after deducting results annulled in Ipoti and Ifaki wards from the total votes cast in the election.
Barka whose decision was supported by two other members of the panel, Justices Sulleiman Dikko and Mohammed Goji nullified results of units 1, 3, 5 and 6 of Ipoti Ward B and a unit in Ward A in Ijero local government.
In Ido/Osi local government unit 3, 5, 9 and 13 of Ifaki Ward I were also cancelled by the judges, while in Ifaki Ward II, units 6 result was nullified.
Delivering the judgment which lasted four hours, twenty minutes, Justice Barka added the 2009 election results to those of the remaining local governments where elections had been concluded in 2007 with the exception of Efon local government which was cancelled by the Appeal Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara to declare Oni winner.
But Justices Adebara and Ogbuninya declared Dr. Fayemi winner of the election, saying the AC candidate scored 106, 146 while Oni scored 98, 203.
They nullified Oni’s election, arguing that it failed to comply substantially with the Electoral Act and was riddled with criminal acts including violence and corrupt practices.
The dissenting judges disagreed with their colleagues on their decision in Ipoti as they nullified results of five units in Ward B of the area.
They called for the nullification of the rest, arguing that since more than half of the election results in the ward had been nullified, the rest could not stand.
Adebara, who read the minority judgment, also submitted that since the respondents could not produce the voters registers used in the four wards challenged in Ido/Osi, the results should be annulled. He said the tribunal was not convinced that the voters’ registers and other electoral materials were burnt in the INEC office in Ido-Ekiti.
He argued that if the voters’ registers were actually burnt as claimed, the INEC wouldn’t have waited for four months before lodging complaint.
Blaming the police for their inability to prevent and arrest any culprit in respect of the burnt INEC office, Adebara described that as dereliction of duty. That also formed part of his conviction that the voters’ registers and other electoral materials were not consumed by the inferno.
He, however, said: “in absence of the voters’ registers, we hereby nullified the purported results contained in the form EC8A.”
Exonerating the Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Saliu Adeoti, an AC member, of his alleged involved involvement in the burning of the INEC office, Adebara said Adeoti “remained unshaken” while giving evidence before the court.
In his verdict, Adebara nullified some of the results based on among others, discrepancies in the date and number of votes cast, illegible writing on the carbonated copies of the form EC8A, signatures of party agents of some parties which did not feature any candidate in the election in Form EC8A.
He noted that All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Democratic Peoples Party(DPP) and National Democratic Party (NDP) did not present any candidate for the governorship election.
Justice Adebara then declared Fayemi of AC as the winner of the election and ordered INEC to issue him a Certificate of Return.
In his reaction, Mr. Adebayo Adenipekun, the lead counsel to Governor Oni said: “this victory is victory well-deserved.” Obafemi Adewale, the lead counsel to PDP, said going by the verdict, “Ekiti state would be better for it.”
Chief Tony Adeniyi, lead counsel to Fayemi, in his reaction prayed that “the Lord God would reward you (judges) bountifully the way you have handled us.”
The lawyer said, “one of the judgments was bungled while the other came naturally. We could see judges who were courageous and stood above board to decide the case the way it should be. We have been vindicated by the two judges, we will file our appeal which will be very, very soon.”
The state Chairman of AC, Chief Jide Awe said the Adebara group had given his party the leeway to be exploited at the appellate court.
PDP Chairman, Chief Bola Olu-Ojo described the judgment as fantastic, saying they would win at the appellate court if the petitioners appeal the court decision.
May 6, 2010
EKITI TRIBUNAL: Oni wins again •Dedicates victory to God •I will appeal – Fayemi
THE five-man tribunal that heard the petition filed by Dr. Kayode Fayemi against Governor Segun Oni over six contentious wards in the rerun governorship election held in Ekiti State, on Wednesday, delivered two separate judgments, one of which retained the governor in office.
Chairman of the panel, Justice Hamman Barka, led two others, Suleiman Dikko and Mohammed Goji, to deliver the majority verdict, while the duo of Justices A. A. Adebara and Obande Ogbuinya delivered the dissenting verdict that declared Dr. Fayemi as the winner.
Reacting, Oni said he dedicated the victory to God, while Fayemi indicated readiness to appeal the ruling.
Oni, at a thanksgiving held immediately after the delivery of the judgments at the Government House Chapel, Ado-Ekiti, said the victory was also for the people of the state.
“We thank God; the judiciary has, once again, lived up to expectations,” he said.
Governor Oni, who was accompanied to the chapel by his deputy, Dr. Sikiru Lawal; the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Bola Olu-Ojo; and other top government functionaries, said he bore no grudges against anyone.
He thanked the people of the state for their support and steadfastness “in the face of provocation from political empire-seeking warlords,” adding that “Ekiti is not a state to be captured by any external forces, who are only bent on adding Ekiti to the comity of their economic and political colonies.
“Today, God, again, demonstrated His absolute power. He put to shame all the manipulations of evil forces that were bent on enslaving Ekiti State. God, in His infinite mercies, proved that truth will always prevail over falsehood, no matter how long it takes.
“I also salute the courage of the judiciary for putting an end to the evil machinations of those who believed that Ekiti State and the entire Nigeria can be purchased at any cost.
“The judgment has further demonstrated that our judiciary will always rise above sentiment and cheap propaganda with which public opinions are being manipulated by those who have substantial interest in the media.“
Governor Oni expressed his commitment to continue to place Ekiti people above all interests, adding that “a number of projects that would put smiles on the faces of our people would soon been inaugurated.”
Oni’s deputy, Dr. Lawal, also applauded the judgment on the supplementary election, adding that the five-man tribunal had acted in good conscience.
In a statement by his Senior Executive Assistant (Media), Mr. Joseph Ogunsemi, Lawal said, “the judgment reflected the views of the right-thinking people of Ekiti State who cast their votes for the right person in the elections.”
Fayemi’s counsel, Chief A. A. Adeniyi, SAN, speaking after the judgment, opined that his client would appeal the judgment.
While addressing the panel, he said his team appreciated the efforts of its members, praying that God would reward each of them according to their contributions to the outcome of the petition.
“We appreciate the patience of Your Lordships. What I, however, have to say is that God will reward each and every one of you in the way you have handled us,” he said.
Former governor of the state, Mr. Ayo Fayose, who also commented on the outcome of the tribunal, maintained that the victory was a judicial coup and that the legal battle was not over yet.
“PDP’s victory is a judicial victory against democracy. However, the people should keep hope alive and shun violence. It is not over until it is over,” he said in a text message to our correspondent.
However, contrary to fears that the outcome of the judgment might spark off violence, the entire state was calm after the judgment was delivered.
Security operatives had, as early as about 6a.m. cordoned off the High Court area from over 500 metres beyond from any link road to the court premises.
Also, among security measures taken was that only 25 members of each party was allowed into the courtroom to hear the judgment.
The plank upon which the lead judgment was majorly based was the burden of proving all the allegations made by the petitioner beyond reasonable doubt.
The final result of the governorship election, according to the judgment, is AC: 106, 868 and PDP: 109, 335.
In the dissenting judgment read by Justice Adebara, the main ground on which Fayemi should be issued certificate of return by the INEC was that the rerun was maned by irregularities and non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2006.
Adebare, who gave two options as the result of the entire election, gave the final results, according to his judgment, as AC: 106, 146 and PDP: 98, 203, and which, he said, was if the entire Ido/Osi results were cancelled for lack of compliance with the Electoral Act.
Meanwhile, the national caucus of the PDP has hailed the ruling and saluted the judiciary for what it called another landmark judgment.
In a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Professor Ahmed Rufai Alkali, the judgment was described as a true reflection of the wishes of electorate in the state.
According to the statement, “the decision of the tribunal to uphold Oni’s victory at the polls “is a reflection of the will of the people of Ekiti State, who have consistently identified with the PDP as the vehicle for change for the better.”
Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State and his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Chief Godswill Akpabio, have described the judgment as a victory for democracy.
Alao-Akala, in a telephone interview with the Nigerian Tribune, said that by the ruling, democracy had come to stay in the country, adding that it had also proved that the PDP was the party of the people in the South-West.
“By the judgment, it is now our hope that there will not be any distraction again for Governor Oni in the task of bringing the dividends of democracy to the people at the grass-roots level. I will advise Dr. Kayode Fayemi and the Action Congress to join hands with the PDP government in Ekiti State to foster good governance and people-oriented programmes,” he said.
Speaking through his Commissioner for Information, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, Governor Akpabio said that the judgment was victory for democracy and the PDP, adding that it showed that the judicial system in the country was growing.
“The nation’s judicial system is growing and, on our part, we would do everything possible to ensure that it grows so that it can give confidence to the people and institutions that are seeking for justice.
“It is also a victory for the PDP and the party is growing stronger. It shows that the party’s position in the election that brought the governor to power, in the first instance, is undisputed,” he said.
Osun State Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, has also congratulated Governor Oni.
Prince Oyinlola, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Lasisi Olagunju, stated that the confirmation of Oni’s victory by the tribunal was a vindication of the just and that cases were never won through propaganda and sentiments.
He expressed joy that the tribunal resolved all issues in Oni’s favour, maintaining that God was always with the righteous no matter how loud and vociferous his opponents were.
While also congratulating the PDP on the tribunal verdict, Prince Oyinlola expressed the hope that the opposition Action Congress (AC) in Ekiti State would at this point accept defeat and join hands with Oni to make Ekiti great.
Additional reports by Dapo Falade and Jackson Udom