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Ekiti governorship election tribunal upholds Fayemi’s victory

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…Says PDP, Olusola failed to prove alleged rigging

…We’ll appeal — PDP candidate; Ekiti erupts in jubilation

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Rotimi Ojomoyela

ADO-EKITI—THERE was wild jubilation in Ado-Ekiti, in Ekiti State, yesterday, as the news of Governor Kayode Fayemi’s victory at the Election Petition Tribunal filtered into town.

Kayode Fayemi

Members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ekiti State and supporters of Governor Fayemi trooped to the streets of Ado Ekiti in a victory dance.

The broom wielding crowd danced from Odo Ado area to the government house and ended their procession at the party’s secretariat in Ajilosun area of the capital city.

The tribunal, which originally started its sitting in Ado-Ekiti had to be moved to Abuja for security reason.

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Fayemi polled a total of 197,459 votes to defeat Olusola, who scored 178, 022 votes to emerge the runner-up.

No merit in PDP petition

The tribunal, in a unanimous judgment by a three-man panel of Justices, said there was no merit in the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate in the election, Prof. Kolapo Olusola.

It, therefore, dismissed the petition, maintaining that the petitioners failed to by way of credible evidence, prove that the election was marred by irregularities.

The lead verdict was read by Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Suleiman Belgore.

According to him, both PDP and its candidate were unable to substantiate their claim that the governorship election in many polling units were characterized by lack of accreditation, over-voting, mutilation of results, inacurate ballot account, snatching of election  materials, inducement of voters, irreconcilable figures and cancellation of results at polling units where they secured highest number of votes.

Belgore held that “scanty evidence” the petitioners laid before the tribunal was not sufficient to invalidate the votes credited to the APC.

He also held that in the absence of credible evidence substantiated with pleadings, all the allegations raised by the petitioners were therefore deemed abandoned.

“Evidence of facts not pleaded goes to nothing”, the tribunal’s Chairman held.

He said the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, with respect to the Ekiti state governorship election, would continue to enjoy the presumption of regularity, until such presumption is displaced with credible evidence.

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The tribunal held that scanty evidence before it, “did not resolve presumption of regularity in favour of the petitioners.

“On the whole, we hold that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations on the balance of probability.

“In fact, oral evidence of some of the witnesses called by the petitioners strengthened the case of the Respondents.

“It is clear that the irregularities claimed in the petition cannot be sustained. We found no reason to disturb the results.”

It will be recalled that the tribunal had on January 9, reserved judgment on the matter after all the parties adopted their final written addresses.

Jubilation in Ado-Ekiti

Accompanied by a musical band, the jubilant crowd, which was led by a House of Representatives candidate in Ekiti Central federal constituency I, Mr. Sola Fatoba and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Mobilisation,  Mr. Tunji

Ogunlola, moved through Odo Ado, a section of Ado Ekiti metropolis.

Ogunlola, while addressing the crowd   said Fayemi worked very hard to win the election and that the judgement  confirmed the position of the party.

They danced to the music being supplied by a popular musician in Ekiti and the long convoy of vehicles caused traffic logjam along Ado-Ikere-Akure road.

Victory expected — APC

Similarly, APC  described  Fayemi’s victory as expected, saying the party perpetrated no electoral heist in the election to warrant the nullification of its outcome.

The State Deputy Chairman of the party, Hon Sola Elesin said: “We are happy over the outcome of the election, but we are not in any way surprised, because transparent election was held in the July 14 2018 governorship election.

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Elesin said: “It was clear that Governor Fayemi won fair and square, so we are not afraid even if they want to appeal the judgement, we are ready for them , because we have no skeleton in our cupboard. There were no cases of electoral malpractices”.

We’ll appeal judgement — PDP

Meanwhile the PDP governorship candidate, Prof. Olusola, who spoke through the Director of Media of his campaign organization, Lere Olayinka said: “That is not the last bus stop as  regards the election petition Tribunal.”

He said: “The law is very clear regarding the hierarchies of courts we can  approach to seek redress on this issue. We are surely going to appeal  the judgement.”

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