By Rotimi Ojomoyela
COUNSELS to the Social Democratic Party, SDP’s, governorship candidate in the June 18 election in Ekiti State, Mr. Segun Oni, yesterday, accused the governor-elect, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji of All Progressives Congress, APC, of stalling the commencement of the Election Petition Tribunal.
Oni’s lawyers described Oyebanji’s action as a deliberate attempt to delay the commencement of the SDP candidate’s petition before the Tribunal, against his victory.
The counsels also alleged that the Yobe State Governor and former National Caretaker Chairman of APC, Mai Mala Buni, and Oyebanji’s Deputy, Monisade Afuye, had been difficult to serve, on account of a lack of fixed addresses.
Oni had, on July 7, 2022, filed his petition before the Tribunal in Ado-Ekiti, calling for the reversal of the declaration of Oyebanji as the winner of the election.
The governor-elect scored a total of 187,045 votes to defeat Oni, who polled 82,122 votes in the election.
Addressing journalists in Ado Ekiti, Oni’s legal team, led by Obafemi Adewale, SAN, was confident that Oni will be declared the winner of the poll at the Tribunal given the avalanche of evidence to be presented to substantiate their claim of widespread rigging in the poll.
Adewale, who spoke through a former Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner in Ekiti, Owoseeni Ajayi, said: “Fact speaks for itself. Segun Oni ought to have been declared the winner because he scored the highest number of valid votes, but this couldn’t happen because the election was characterised by widespread irregularities.
“We filed our petition on July 7 within the time stipulated for us in the Electoral Act. Since that time, we have been having issues with service.
“INEC had been served without restriction. The APC had also been served in Abuja without restriction. But we have a problem serving the governor-elect, Biodun Oyebanji, his deputy, Monisade Afuye and the caretaker chairman of the party when the candidate was elected at the primary, Governor Mai Mala Buni.
“There had been deliberate avoidance of service by these respondents. In any election petition, time is of the essence because we have to conclude the petition within 181 days.”