The Ekiti state governorship election petition tribunal has struck out the petition filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the July 14 2018 gubernatorial election, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka.
Chairman of Tribunal, Justice Sulaiman Belgore who delivered a unanimous judgment in Abuja, said it was incorrect to contend that candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Dr. Kayode Fayemi did not won the election with majority of lawful votes.
The Tribunal held that PDP and its candidate failed to prove that the governorship election was marred with irregularities.
According to the judgment which lasted for about 5 hours, the Tribunal noted that the petitioners failed to present enough witnesses to support their petition, adding that some of the witnesses presented actually supported the case of APC.
Justice Belgore said one of the witnesses who is a polling unit agent confirmed that election held in his polling unit and he signed the result sheet.
“Finally and in the light of everything said and done, with firm perusal and consideration of the entire circumstance of this case, “It is incorrect to contend that the correspondent did not win the election by a majority of lawful votes. In fact, the contrary is crystal clear.
“He scored a total of 197, 459 votes as against 178, 121votes scored by the second petitioner the declaration satisfy the provision of section 27 and section 69 of the Electoral Act, we have no reason to disrupt or upturn that declaration, this petition is hereby lacking in all merit, failed and it is hereby dismissed,” The Tribunal declared.
Justice Belgore also held that the petitioners did not specifically indicate the polling units where the alleged illegal ballot papers were used. And that the names of individuals who allegedly committed electoral offences were not stated in the petition.
In a few cases where names were stated, Justice Belgore noted that those whose names were mentioned were not joined in the suit to defend the allegations of crime against them.
He also said that polling agents of the APC who were alleged to have engaged in votes buying were neither named nor joined in the petition.
“Locations and polling boots where illegal ballot papers were used were not stated, and those who allegedly committed electoral offences were not named and those whose names featured were not joined to defend the allegations of crime against them. Agents and supporters who engaged in vote buying were not names or joined to defend themselves,” Belgore stated.
Specifically, Justice Belgore held that in the absence of credible evidence substantiated with pleadings, all the allegations raised by the petitioners were therefore deemed abandoned. The Chairman held that 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.
The tribunal further 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. More so, the tribunal noted that some of the complaints raised by the petitioners were at variance with evidence they adduced before it.
“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,” Belgore added.
Counsel to the Governor Fayemi, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) in his reaction to the judgment said his client did not claim any cost in anticipation that the petitioner would accept the judgment and join hands with the Governor to develop Ekiti state.
Counsel to the Petitioner, Rolan Otaru (SAN) while responding to the judgment noted that the Tribunal has given its judgment and such is the beauty of democracy and the court process. He however said he would consult with his client and decide on the next line of action.