BY GBENGA ARIYIBI
ADO EKITI—OVER three weeks after conceding victory to Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the Ekiti Governorship election of June 21, in the state, the All Progressive Congress, APC, has made a U-turn and decided to challenge the result of the election at the election petition tribunal sitting in Ado Ekiti,the state capital.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has declared the candidate of the PDP, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, winner of the election, having polled majority of votes in all the 16 local government areas of the state to defeat the incumbent governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi of APC and the Labour Party, LP, candidate, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele.
Though details of the contents of APC petition at the tribunal were sketchy at the time this report, the interim chairman of the party in the state, Chief Jide Awe said he personally submitted the petition at the secretariat of the tribunal on behalf of the party on Saturday, since according to him, the law allowed the tribunal to operate on weekends.
Awe said the party had sought the assistance of the tribunal to “unravel the hidden facts surrounding the election,” contending that the election was more of “a mechanical exercise than conventional casting of votes.”
The grouse on which the party is contesting at the tribunal, according to him, included alleged manipulation of the election in favour of the PDP candidate, undue militarisation, impeachment of Mr Fayose in 2006, as well as EFCC’s cases hanging on the governor-elect.
Awe claimed that Fayose was not qualified in the first place to participate in the election exercise, “aside from the process of the poll’s conduct, which was faulty.”
According to him, the party did not want to take laws into its hands or resort to self-helps, hence its decision to follow constitutional and peaceful line of seeking redress in the court, claiming “The results of the election were embarrassing to us as a party and we hold the view that there is no smoke without fire.”
Awe explained that the decision of the party to challenge the conduct of the election at the tribunal was not at variance with the earlier position of the Governor Fayemi, who had accepted defeat and congratulated Mr Fayose.
He said “The governor does not own the party. It is the party that owns the governor, and so the party can decide for him. You will observe that there is no name of Dr Kayode Fayemi on the ballot papers, what was on it was the name of the party and its logo. So, the issue is beyond the governor. Let it be known to you that our candidate, Dr Fayemi only conceded victory to guarantee continued peace that was prevalent in the state at the time as well as allow the siege laid on the state by the military to end. You can see that as soon as he announced that he had accepted defeat, the soldiers immediately vacated the state.”
Meanwhile, the Governor-Elect, Mr Ayo Fayose, has said APC’s members are jittery over the PDP’s victory in the state, saying he will continue to work with other members of the party in the South West geo political zone.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Idowu Adelusi, in a statement weekend while reacting to a statement credited to the Oyo State chapter of the APC, warning Fayose to stay away from the state, said “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees freedom of association and movement among many freedoms enshrined in it. It is in exercise of the freedom that people came together to form the PDP and which people also freely joined.
”Fayose and others are members of the PDP, I don’t know how that has injured the APC. Also, it is in the exercise of the freedom of movement that PDP members and leaders converged in Ibadan, to hold a sensitisation rally and necessary, legally-mandated security agencies performed their duties that led to the success of the event.”