Appeal Court Confirms Kick-Out of Agagu from Ondo Governorship; Orders Immediate Installation of Mimiko

No Comments » February 27th, 2009 posted by // Categories: Elections 2007



 

 

Agagu Out – Mimiko in. To be sworn in today!  (Feb 23,’09)

… says ‘I have a weighty burden’

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By Agency Reporter

Published: Tuesday, 24 Feb 2009

Governor Olusegun Mimiko came out from the tension-soaked proceeding at the Court of Appeal in Benin, on Monday, admitting that he was saddled with a heavy burden of serving the the people of the state.

He, however, declared that he was determined to face the challenges in view of the massive support he enjoyed from the people during his struggle for the actualisation of his mandate.

The governor had, before Justice Umaru Abdulahi concluded reading his lead judgment, rushed out of the courtroom, knelt down and prayed.

He later said he had to pray for God to give him the ability to demonstrate in practical terms, his determination to bring development to the state.

He attributed his victory to God’s faithfulness, the determination of the people in the pursuit of electoral justice, fairness and the firmness of the judiciary.

Mimiko, who was in company with the National President of the LP , Mr. Dan Nwanyanwu, commended President Umaru Yar’Adua for creating an ideal platform for the judiciary to perform its constitutional duties in a credible manner.

He said, ”I thank God Almighty. We put our faith in God and the judiciary and we have not been let down. I also thank the President for allowing the judiciary to blossom this time. We thank the people of Ondo State and all Nigerian well-wishers who stood by us during those trying times.

“They have demonstrated faith in the judiciary and democracy. I know I carry an unsuaal burden to prove to the people that I am worthy of their support and I pray to God that I will not fail them.”

The governor later went to the Edo State Government House to pay a courtesy call on Governor Adams Oshiomhole whose case gave the indication that the Appeal court was most likely to give a verdict in favour of the LP because of perceived similarity in their cases.

Oshiomhole said that Mimiko’s victory was a strong indication of the commencement of the electoral reforms of the Yar‘Adua administration.

He added that with the verdict, it had become clearer that Nigerians could now venture into the serious issue of discussing democracy.

The governor said that the judiciary was making inroads into the responsibilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission by delivering judgments that rekindle the hope of the people and their interest in democracy.

He said that the victory of the LP in Ondo State had only added to the conducive developmental atmosphere in Edo and Lagos states.

In his own reaction in Akure, Agagu said he had accepted the judgment which ousted him from office.

He spoke through his former Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Mobilisation, Chief Eddy Olafeso.

He said, “Dr. Olusegun Agagu would be remembered as a man that laid solid foundation for the sustainable development of the state. He has been doing these in the last six years; his achievement will always be part of history in the state.

“In this game, somebody must win and somebody must lose. We believe in the rule of law and we accept the verdict of the court of appeal.”

Agagu had around 10am on Monday arrived at the Government House, Akure, but left after receiving newspapers from some his aides.

Before he left , he did not go into the Office of the Governor.


Akure Agog as Mimiko is Pronounced Governor (Feb 23,’09)

James Sowole in Akure and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin, 02.24.2009

Akure, the Ondo State capital, and some neighbouring towns erupted in jubilation yesterday as the news filtered in that hard-fighting Labour Party (LP) gubernatorial candidate in the April 14, 2007 election in the state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, had been pronounced the governor of the state.

The atmosphere, however, became electrifying when Mimiko emerged in the town around 7pm and was driving round in a convoy of cars.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, Edo State early yesterday affirmed the decision of the lower tribunal which had on July 25, 2008 declared Mimiko as the winner of the governorship election.

The verdict ended the two-year legal tussle over the seat and put paid to the 21-month reign of former governor Olusegun Agagu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Thousands of residents, who had stayed glued to their television sets to watch the proceedings before it was yanked off by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), trooped to the streets of Akure immediately the judges gave the final verdict around 12.55pm.

The popular Oyemekun/Adesida road in the city, which was earlier deserted, became a beehive of activities with many siren and horn blaring vehicles of LP supporters jubilating on the streets.

Shops and markets in Akure had remained closed in the morning in compliance with the directive of the Deji of Akure, Oba Oluwadare Adesina, last week.

Banks were attending cautiously to their customers especially in the morning hours, before judgment was delivered, but by the time the verdict filtered in only few had any time for the banks.

The Governor’s Office, Alagbaka and the entire state secretariat remained desolate as most civil servants stayed at home for fear of possible outbreak of violence.

In Ondo town where Mimiko hails from, thousands of residents trooped out to celebrate the victory of one of their own.

Combat-ready riot policemen, regular policemen and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were patrolling the roads and hot spots with Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), trucks and vans to ward off any outbreak of violence.

Men of the Nigerian Army were also not left out in the task of ensuring that there was no crisis. The celebration was not limited to the state: it was also singing and dancing in Abuja in areas populated by the state indigenes.

Most of the places visited included the state’s Liaison office in the Central area of Abuja and the Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro where staff members were met dancing and singing victory songs.

At Jabi park also in Abuja, drivers and food vendors of Ondo State practically took over the entire place dancing.

Meanwhile, in upholding the decision of the lower tribunal headed by Justice Garuba Nabaruma, the appellate court distilled the over 207 grounds of appeal into 12 grounds of appeal, and dismissed 10 of them brought before it by the appellant, former governor Agagu.

In the court’s view, it was inappropriate for the appellant to begin to make fresh pleadings when he failed to plead same at the lower tribunal.
The Appeal Court President, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, also dismissed the appellant’s plea for the court to quash the tribunal’s verdict on the ground that one of the five Justices, J. Goje, did not participate in the entire proceedings of the tribunal.

The court held that the issue of participation of all the five judges was immaterial since Justice Goje, at a point in the life of the tribunal, indeed sat on the panel.

He added that Section 208 (4) of the existing constitution prescribed a quorum of three judges amongst who must be the chairman of the tribunal.

It also threw out the contentious issue of charting of the elections result by the tribunal, which Agagu maintained went outside the competence of the tribunal.

The appeal court held that there was nothing extra-ordinary about the charting of the results as the said documents were brought from the legal custody of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Justice Abdullahi said: “The order for the collation of the results contained in forms EC8A from the respective wards were made by the tribunal in the full glare of all parties in the petition.

“The appellant who himself had benefited from the results of such collation in other instances, could not now turn around to condemn same.’’

The appellate court, in a unanimous decision, held that Mimiko having satisfied Sections 21 and 39 of the Electoral Act 2006 “is hereby declared the duly elected Governor of Ondo State”.: “The judgment of the tribunal is hereby affirmed. The appeal is hereby dismissed.”

According to Justice Abdullahi, Mimiko won the election with 195,030 votes as against 138,155 votes scored by Agagu.

The court held that Mimiko scored 25 per cent of the votes in 12 out of the 18 local governments in the state.
Justice Abdullahi ordered the immediate swearing-in of Mimiko.

The appellate court held that though there were some material errors in the computation of the final results of the election, they were not at a scale as would substantially affect the overall result.

But the court, however, enjoined the INEC to learn to be neutral in electoral cases, just as it condemned the attitude of the Nigerian Police and the Army for joining the electoral fray.

The court held that the appellant was wrong to have raised the issue of non-competence and to have called for the striking out of Mimiko’s petition at the appeal stage, stressing that the appropriate place to have raised the issue was the lower tribunal where the matter was tried.
On the non-joinder of the police and electoral officers, which the appellant contended was fatal to Mimiko’s petition, the appellate court declared that where INEC was a party in electoral matter, the non-joinder of any of its agents would not have any effect on the petition, noting that joining of the police and other agents alleged to have committed electoral fraud was not necessary, as the Electoral Act 2006 was distinct from the 2002 Electoral Act, which required such joinder.

The court also held that the argument of the appellant’s counsel that the tribunal sorted and counted the ballot papers on its own without involving the parties was baseless because the records of the lower tribunal showed that the counting was carried out and witnessed by agents of all parties in the case.

“The allegations of election rigging made by the petitioner against Dr. Agagu and the PDP was proved by a reply in a letter by the Secretary to the Ondo State Government accepting to pay compensation to a 300 level student of the University of Ibadan who was killed while rigging election,” the court held.

While okaying the lower tribunal’s decision to cancel election results in some units and wards on grounds of irregularities and non-voting, the court held that the appellant’s argument that the election did not comply substantially with the 2006 Electoral Act was unmeritorious and therefore resolved in favour of the petitioner holding that the appellant’s failure to produce forms EC8A was fatal to his case.

The court further held that the appellant’s objection to the use of charts was unmeritorious, as the appellant and respondents made the use of charts the cornerstone of their case.

Reacting to the judgment in court, the lead counsel to Agagu, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), thanked the justices for their effort.

On his part, Mimiko’s lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), described the judgment as a demonstration of the wishes of the people through the ballot box, adding: “When you delivered the Oshiomhole judgment, I said it was the best. This judgment is the very best of the very best. It has become the catechism of all judicial authorities. You have carried out a revolution but you might not know. It is redemption of our democracy. The Court of Appeal has never been greater than it is today”.

In his reply, Justice Abdullahi commended the counsel for their hard work, saying the case was a very complex case, even as he also commended his colleagues on the bench.

Immediately the court handed out its judgment, security personnel swooped on Mimiko, forming a ring around him from where he was driven to the Government House, Benin.

In and outside the court premises, his supporters were singing songs of joy. Mimiko said nobody should assume that he could steal the people’s vote and mandate with impunity, assuring the people of Ondo State that their hope would not be dashed.

He thanked President Umaru Musa Yar”Adua for allowing the judiciary to follow due process in the dispensation of justice.

Responding, Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole said: “We in Edo State are privileged to be part of this history. I thank God for the wonderful things He has done for our country when some sections of the political class have continued to mess up the country.”
He added that the judiciary had restored those votes the people of Ondo gave to the winner.

Also reacting to the judgment, the PDP Publicity Secretary, Chief Adeyemi Adedipe, said the party would be back to govern the state again because the PDP administration had done many unprecedented developmental projects in the last five years.

The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Eddy Olafeso, said Agagu would be remembered as the man who laid a solid foundation for the sustainable development of the state.

“He has been doing that in the last five years; his achievement will always be part of history in the state. In this game, somebody must win and somebody must lose, we believe in the rule of law and we accept the verdict of the Court of Appeal,” he said.

The Justice Nabaruma-led Ondo Election Petitions Tribunal had on July 25, 2008 returned Mimiko as the elected governor of the state.
Nabaruma had in the verdict said that Mimiko was able to prove allegations of electoral fraud and non-conduct of elections in nine of the contentious council areas of the state.

PM NEWS

The Triumph Of Iroko
February 26, 2009 14:09, 171 views

Unlike what obtained at the Court of Appeal, Ilorin, Kwara state, when the court premises was filled with officials of the Ekiti state government, who had stormed the court in dozens of official vehicles, in anticipation of victory for their benefactor, governor Olusegun Oni, who was later deposed, the situation at the Appeal Court, Benin, Edo state, last Monday, was devoid of any fanfare.

It was as if the former governor of Ondo state, Olusegun Agagu, and his key aides knew that the battle to retain the Government House, Akure, was lost. Apart from the state attorney-general and commissioner for information, who came to witness the outcome of his appeal against the decision of the state election petitions tribunal which ousted him from office, there was no visible presence of his supporters around the court premises.

On the contrary, supporters of the Labour Party governorship candidate, Dr. Olusegun Rahman Mimiko, stormed the court in their thousands. Even though majority of them were not allowed into the court premises for security reasons, their presence was overwhelming. They exuded confidence. To them, it was only a matter of time before the Appeal Court justices declared their man the new governor of Ondo state.

And they were not disappointed. At exactly 1.50 p.m., that Monday, the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Abdullahi Umaru, dismissed all the objections raised by ex-governor Agagu over the nullification of his election by the election petitions tribunal and declared Mimiko as the new governor of Ondo state.

Even though Justice Abdullahi was yet to complete reading his judgement, there was a loud roar of ‘Iroko’ from outside, as jubilant supporters of Mimiko turned the premises into a celebration arena. In his declaration, the Appeal Court president stated: “In the final analysis, it was clear that all appeals lacked merit, and are accordingly dismissed. The leading judgement of the tribunal delivered on 26 July, 2008, is hereby affirmed. It is therefore ordered as follows; that the election of the appellant, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, as the governor of Ondo state in the governorship election of 14 April, 2007, is hereby nullified; Two, the first respondent, Rahman Olusegun Mimiko, having satisfied the requirement of Section 139(2) A, B of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, by virtue of Section 147(2) of the Electoral Act 2006, is hereby declared the Governor of Ondo State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

For three minutes, after Justice Abdullahi finished reading his judgement, the man they all call Iroko sat transfixed on his seat, tears of joy welling in his eyes. It took a jolt by one of his aides who shouted at him, “oga, we have won” for him to come alive.

Cleaning his eyes with a handkerchief, Mimiko said: “I thank God Almighty for a day like this, it has been long. But we have triumphed. We put our faith in God and in the judiciary and we have not been let down. We thank God Almighty. I also thank the president of Nigeria for allowing the judiciary to brace up this time, I must thank the people of Ondo state and all well wishers in Nigeria for standing by us in those very tough times of the struggle. They have demonstrated faith in the judiciary, faith in democracy.”

On how prepared he was to assume the mantle of leadership in Ondo state, Mimiko said: “All I have to say is that I know I carry an unusual burden. We turn to the people that we have been worthy of their support and I pray to God that I will not fail them”.

It was indeed a moving speech. Thereafter, the new governor was surrounded by supporters who tried to lift him on their shoulders, but were prevented by the security personnel who had formed a ring of protection around him. It was a hectic task to get the new governor to the jeep parked in front of the entrance of the court room, as his supporters combined with photo journalists and reporters to make his movement difficult.

There was pushing and shoving by security agents, who did everything possible to guide the man of the moment to his vehicle. Thereafter, the celebration continued on the ever-busy Benin-Auchi road. This led to a serious traffic gridlock on the road. The convoy later moved to the office of the Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, in a carnival-like atmosphere.

Many of the lawyers present at the court commended the judiciary for protecting the right of the downtrodden. In his comment, the deputy legal adviser of Labour Party in Ondo state, Dora Akinbo, described the judgement as a victory for democracy and the rule of law.

“It is a victory for the common people. Now, we can conclude that the common people on the street have hope. The judiciary has performed brilliantly,” he stated.

On the task before Mimiko, Akinbo said: “Mimiko is a man of the people. I know he would perform. People have studied his antecedents. That was why they voted for him en masse. I have hope that he will not disappoint the people of Ondo state.”

Another lawyer, Barrister Raymond Okezie, described the judgement as wonderful. According to him, the judgement is a serious warning to future riggers that they would be exposed sooner or later.

“Nigerians will no longer tolerate rigging, no matter their position or wealth. It is a serious warning to future riggers to desist from it because Nigerians will no longer tolerate it,” he warned. For Iroko, justice has prevailed and it’s time to rescue the Ondo people from the shenanigans of fraudulent leaders.

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