By Gbenga Ariyibi
The legal battle between Ekiti State Governor, Engr Segun Oni and his arch political rival, Dr Kayode Fayemi of the Action Congress (AC) over the May, 2009 governorship re-run election has snowballed into a new dimension, as the governor yesterdayÂ personally appeared in the court to sign his statement on oath, just as he filed a cross appeal challenging the scores recorded by Fayemi in Ado Local Government during theÂ April 14, 2007 governorship election.
Oni, who is praying the tribunal to dismiss Fayemiâ€™s petition in his defence is equally challenging the scores recorded by his opponent in Igbemo Ward during the April 25, 2009 governorship re-run election.
Oni is claiming that the 16, 612 votes credited to the AC in Ado Local Government are invalid as there was no accreditation of voters before election was held in the council area.
Fayemi had in his petition challenged results of the election in four out of the eleven wards in Ido/Osi Local Government and two wards in Ijero Local Government Area, alleging irregularities, violence among others.
The governorÂ who arrived at the court premises along with his deputy, Dr Sikiru Tae LawalÂ Â yesterday to sign his Statement on Oath, said the petition filed by Fayemi was full of â€œlies, concoction and cock-and-bull storiesâ€.
Oni who is the first respondent in the suit has a 304-page reply to Fayemiâ€™s petition, hadÂ accused Fayemi and his party of fomenting crises before, during and after the rerun election.
The governor who later spoke with the newsmen disclosedÂ that the first Petitioners had several strategies for the re run electionÂ â€˜to win at all cost’. Part of their strategies was to cause violence in PDP strongholds to ensure that elections were cancelled in those units and wards where the 1st Respondent had majority of lawful votes.â€™â€™
“This was the reason why they successfully prevented election from holding in Oye Town on April 25, 2009. It took the combined effort of all security agencies in the country who were drafted to the small community of Oye town on May 5, 2008 before election could hold in the town.
â€œIn the case of Ifaki, where the 1st Respondent comes from, the people of the town were resolute in their determination to come out en masse to vote and also refuse to be provoked into creating a violent environment. Hon Saliu Adeoti and his thugs could not penetrate the town until after the election. And in a bid to carry out his â€˜assignmentâ€™ at all cost headed for the collation centre where he set ablaze the INEC office and the electoral materials.â€
He said the tribunal should dismiss Fayemiâ€™s petition in its entirety, averring that all the reliefs sought in paragraph 133 of the Petition and indeed the entire Petition are frivolous, time-wasting and lack merit.
Engr Oni in his Statement on Oath listed 150 witnesses and attached over 200 pages of documents in support of his defence.
On why he was challenging the results of the April 14, 2007 election in Ado Local Government, Oni averred that â€œthere was no accreditation of voters done in accordance with the Electoral Act, 2006 and the Election Manual, 2007.
â€œThe colour of ink used for accreditation of voters on the various votersâ€™ registers in respect of all the polling units constituting Ado-Ekiti Local Government Area negates the prescribed colour of ink to be used for Governorship election in the Election Manual, 2007”.
â€œAll the ballot papers used in casting votes for the Petitioners in Ado-Ekiti are invalid because of non-stamping and non-signing of as prescribed by the Electoral Act and Election Manual, 2007.â€
Speaking after signing his Statement on Oath, Governor Oni said he was at the court personally to file his defence because of his unalloyed respect for the judiciary, adding that no one is above the law.
Also speaking with press men, the lead counsel to the governor, Mr. Adebayo Adenipekun (SAN) expressed confidence in the judiciary, saying; â€œWe are sure of victory because we have overwhelming defence against Fayemiâ€™s petition.â€
The counsel said in all about 500 witnesses in being lined up by the respondent for his defence.