By Dayo Benson, Political Editor, Demola Akinyemi & Gbenga Ariyibi
ILORIN â€” THE Action Congress (AC) senatorial candidate in Ekiti Central Senatorial District in the last election, Mr Ola Festus Bode, was yesterday declared the winner by the Court of Appeal sitting in Ilorin.
Mr Bode is to replace the incumbent senator, Mr Adefemi Kila of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) currently in the National Assembly.
Delivering the lead Judgment, Justice Sotonye Denton-West said the respondent after a deduction of invalid votes from the initial votes credited to PDP candidate by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has a total of 19,653 votes as against 38,563 credited to the appellant as lawful votes.
According to the appellate court, the physical counting of the votes cards revealed that about 19,000 votes possess the same serial number.
Justice Denton-West said since the respondent could not challenge the evidence at the lower tribunal, it would be difficult for the appellate court to grant a specific prayer on it.
The lower tribunal had cited technicality for not considering the ground of the appellant at that level of adjudication.
But Denton-West posited that the era of technicality was over, adding that since the evidence was not challenged at the lower tribunal, it is an acceptance that it was not controverted.â€
According to him, â€œafter subtracting the valid votes from the invalid ones, the appellant has a majority lawful votes, and based on these majority lawful votes, the appellant is so declared as the winner of the election.
The appellant had at the lower tribunal led evidence in which the respondent was alleged to have inflated the votes credited to him by about 19,000.
Reacting to the verdict, AC governorship candidate, Dr Kayode Fayemi said: â€œItâ€™s victory for truth, resilience, consistency and doggedness. Itâ€™s a vindication of the position that AC was the party voted for by Ekiti people. The revelation is now coming out. It was the same Femi who was shouting during the re-run result on NTA, now, he has got the result he asked for.
â€œItâ€™s also an indication of what is to come in the Ekiti North Senatorial District which we have won at the lower tribunal, when Senator Ayo Arise will be also be swept out from that position. Itâ€™s also a strong indication for our people that they should stand for what they believe in. This is a victoryÂ for the people and no just for Bode Ola, he is only the vehivle.
Meanwhile, the Action Congress has hailed the judgement,describing it as a sweet reward for perseverance and doggedness.