By DAYO JOHNSON, Akure
THE Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ondo state over the October 20 governorship election, yesterday dismissed the petitions filed by the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and its candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate Chief Olusola Oke challenging the victory of Dr Olusegun Mimiko.
It therefore upheld the October 20 governorship election of Dr Olusegun Mimiko as the governor of Ondo state.
In a five-hour judgement delivered in Akure, the Chairman of the three-member Tribunal, Justice Andover Kaka ‘an said that the petitioners ”failed woefully to prove that the governorship election of October 20 is not in compliance with the electoral act”.
Justice Kaka ‘an said that in the petition of the ACN, the petitioner failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt, all the allegations of corrupt practices and non- compliance with the electoral act.
He pointed out that the evidential burden of proof lies solely on the petitioner and not the respondents, adding that the petitioner could not also prove that alleged non compliance with the electoral act affected the overall result of the election.
On the alleged non accreditation of voters, non voting, multiple voting and other malpractices during the election, the tribunal said that the petitioner ought to have called non accredited voters to give evidence.
On the injection of illegal voters into the voters register, the tribunal said that the matter is a pre election matter and that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain it.
According to Justice Kaka ‘an, the petitioner had 30 days according to the provision of the electoral law to contest the voters register provided by INEC and that since they failed to do so within the stipulated days, it has become a pre-election matter.
He said they could have challenged the alleged injection in the State High Court or Federal High Court having detected the alleged injection of over 100,000 voters by INEC.
Justice Kaka ‘an described many of the 41 witnesses called by Akeredolu as ”unreliable and mere hearsay”.
On the expert witness called by Akeredolu, the tribunal said that he gave conflicting evidence adding that ”he is not the expert he claimed to be and that it will be unsafe to rely on his evidence having given entries different numbers in his report.
He therefore declared that the petitioner has failed “to prove that the allegations in his petition affect substantially the result of the election. The petition is hereby dismissed politely.”
On the petition of the PDP and its candidate, Chief Olusola Oke, the tribunal said that he failed to prove that the election was not conducted in compliance with the electoral act.
Justice Kaka ‘an said that on the injection of the alleged illegal voters in the voters register, the petitioner ought to have challenged such in the Court within the 30 days provided by the electoral act after the soft copy was given to all the political parties by INEC.
According to him, there was no concrete and credible evidence before the tribunal that any injection of voters was done by INEC adding that the matter is a pre election matter in which the tribunal lacked jurisdiction.
The tribunal said Oke failed to substantiate the allegations of voting without accreditation, multiple voting, thumb printing, ballot snatching and stuffing with credible evidences.
Justice Kaka ‘an added that the allegation of injection of illegal voters into the voters register by INEC was not proved by the petitioner, whether its in favour or disfavour of the first respondent, Dr Mimiko or maybe it has any impact on the result of the election.
The tribunal described many of the 45 witnesses called by Oke as ”illiterates who do not know what the electoral act says but gave evidences on units where they were not agents on the day of the election.”
The chairman added that they gave evidences not on facts but purely on hearsay and basically of no value.
Justice Kaka ‘an pointed out that evidences given were at variance with the petitioners pleadings, making them liars and also testifying on un-pleaded facts.
He particularly described the evidence given by Oke himself as ”purely primary and secondary hearsay which is not admissible.”
The tribunal declared that the petitioner failed woefully to prove all the allegations that the election was conducted without compliance with the electoral act adding that the burden of proof rests solely on the petitioner.
Justice Kaka än therefore declared that the case of the petitioner lacked merit and is therefore dismissed.
In their reaction, the candidates of the Action Congress of Nigeria, AC N and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the October 20 governorship election in Ondo state rejected the judgment of the Election Petition Tribunal.
Consequently, they have said they will appeal the judgement delivered by the three-member tribunal led by Justice Andovar Kaka‘an.
This came as the news of the tribunal judgement was received with ecstasy across the state yesterday.
Party supporters trooped to the streets, singing praises to God for the victory at the tribunal.
However, the governor, Dr Mimiko in a statement in Akure yesterday called on
“opposition party members to partner with us in meeting the expectations of our people. Since we hold the belief that opposition party politics should be the constructive engagement of the government in power, we are urging those opposed to our politics to shed the adversarial toga and join hands with us in building an
enviable and prosperous Ondo State.
”The Labour Party government salutes the professional competence with which the Justice Andovar Kaaka ‘an Election Tribunal handled the petition within the legal time frame and applauds the decision that squares with the preponderating wish of the electorate during the said election. This has once again, confirmed the Nigerian judiciary as living up to its role as the final impartial arbiter in all contentious matters.”