The Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has dismissed the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress challenging the return of Ayodele Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the governorship election held in the state.
The tribunal affirmed the return of Fayose by the Independent National Election Commission, (INEC), in June.
In a swift reaction, the APC vowed to appeal the verdict of the tribunal while Fayose described them as “bad losers.”
The panel held that the witnesses paraded by the petitioner were unable to adduce concrete evidence to support allegations of corrupt practices at the polling units.
It also held that their testimonies did not support the allegations that the election did not comply substantially with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The chairman of the panel Justice Ibrahim Serajo who read the tribunal’s judgment held as follows:
“The testimonies of these witnesses are unsatisfactory and their inability to give the names of the polling units as well as the names of their agents at those unnamed polling units shows that most of them that gave evidence of these alleged non- compliance did not vote at the election as such their testimonies failed to support their claims. None of them gave evidence on the improper accreditation or manipulation of accreditation.
“The petitioner failed to substantiate the allegation of improper accreditation or non-accreditation of voters.”
The panel also held that failure of the petitioner to produce witnesses from majority of the polling units to substantiate the allegation of improper and or non-accreditation of voters at the polling units had damaged the substance of the petition.
Similarly, it rejected the claim of the APC that the election was systematically and scientifically conducted by the use of indelible photo chronic and vanishing inks that faded within minutes in such a way to favour the emergence of the PDP candidate at the election.
He said: “No evidence was tendered by the petitioner to substantiate the use of scientific photo-chronic ink neither was any specialist invited by the petitioner with scientific qualification to prove that such an ink was used. The only three witnesses who gave evidence in connection with the ink were one politician who claimed not to know anything about a computer, an agent who is not well educated and a farmer, by their testimonies, these witnesses do not possess the required expertise to prove that scientific indelible ink and photo-chronic ballot papers were used in the conduct of the election. This is fatal to that ground of the petition.”
The panel also held that as at the time Fayose declared his interest to contest the Ekiti State governorship election, the APC was aware of his alleged disqualification and that the issue was already being canvassed before an Ekiti State High Court before the election which made the issue a pre-election matter upon which the tribunal did not have the jurisdiction to entertain. It thereafter struck out that ground of the petition.
Similarly, the panel held that sections 19 and 20 of the Electoral Act provided for the display of the voters register 30 days to the election and noted that a diligent political party ought to have complained against any failure by the electoral umpire to comply with that provision.
It further held that the issue of contravention of code of conduct, like the issue of Fayose’s non- qualification, falls within those issues considered as pre-election issues, and subsequently struck out that ground of the petition in favour of the PDP and Fayose.
After the verdict, Fayose declared that it had confirmed that the All Progressives Congress are bad losers.
Advising APC to stop trying God, Fayose said the verdict had demonstrated that the Ekiti people freely gave their mandate to him during the June 21 governorship election.
Meanwhile, the APC in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary in the state, Taiwo Olatunbosun, threatened to appeal the judgement.
APC said: “Even though the tribunal did not say that all the issues raised against Fayose were not true, dismissing the entire case on the basis of pre-election matter tag will be challenged at the Appeal Court.”
Source: This Day