The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday in Abuja lost its bid to wrestle power from the APC-government of Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti State following the judgment of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which pronounced the governor as duly elected.
The three-man panel, in a unanimous judgement that lasted almost five hours, dismissed the PDP candidate, Prof. Olusola Olubunmi’s suit for lacking in merit and substance.
The tribunal held that the various allegations raised against the election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission on July 14, 2018 were not proved as required by law.
The tribunal specifically said that rather than establishing the allegations of corruption, malpractices, ballot box snatching, non accreditation, over voting and deliberate voiding of votes, among others, the petitioners dumped worthless documents on the tribunal without demonstrating them.
Tribunal Justice Suleiman Belgore said that contrary to the claims of the petitioners, Fayemi was duly and lawfully returned as winner of majority votes by INEC.
The tribunal held that it was established beyond reasonable doubt that the APC candidate in the election scored 197,459 votes as against the 178,121 votes by Olubunmi to emerge winner of the poll.
Belgore held that 71 witnesses were called by the petitioners to testify as against 926 witnesses listed to be invited to testify for them, adding that the 71 witnesses were scanty and insufficient to establish the fact of the various issues raised in the petition.
The judge held that calling 41 polling agents as witnesses out of 1,458 polling units was fatal to the case of the petitioners because the 41 agents invited as witnesses were too scanty and grossly few to make any impact in the petition.
To worsen the matter for the petitioners, the tribunal said that all the witnesses called by them voted unhindered and never told the tribunal of harassment, molestation, thuggery and other forms of electoral malpractice as alleged by the petitioners.
Justice Belgore dismissed the claims by the petitioners that Fayemi at the time of the election was not qualified to stand for governorship election on the ground of his alleged indictment by the Justice Oyewole Commission of Inquiry.
The judge held that Section 182 of the 1999 Constitution relied upon by the petitioners to get the APC candidate disqualified had been deleted by the alteration done to the constitution on July 16,2010 by the National Assembly when the alteration took effect.
In all, the tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove that they scored higher number of votes in the election and that they also failed to prove that Fayemi was not validly returned as the winner.
Contrary to the law, the tribunal also held that there was no evidence that the agents of the petitioners were forced to sign the result sheets which they did on the Election Day.
Justice Belgore, therefore, agreed that the governor was lawfully returned and that the petition against him failed because it lacked merit and was therefore dismissed in its entirety.
The PDP and its candidate had dragged the INEC, APC and Fayemi to the tribunal, praying that the election of July 14, 2018 be nullified.
They urged the tribunal to declare them as winners of the election through majority lawful votes or in the alternative order a rerun.