Ekiti election: How PDP, Olusola lost

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The Ekiti State Governorship Election Tribunal upheld the victory of Governor Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Eric Ikhilae identifies factors that informed the tribunal’s decision. Dissatisfied with the result of the last July 14 governorship election in Ekiti State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Kolapo Olusola, who came second, filed a petition at the Governorship Election Tribunal. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returned the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Dr Kayode Fayemi, as the winner. Fayemi scored 197,459 votes; Olusola, who was Deputy Governor at the time of the election, polled 178,121. In their 712-page petition dated last August 2, but filed on August 3, Olusola and his party prayed the tribunal to declare them winners, declare the election inconclusive and order supplementary rerun, or nullify the election outright on four grounds. First, the petitioners claimed that the third respondent (Fayemi) was not qualified/was disqualified from contesting the election based on his indictment by a commission of inquiry; and that he was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast in the election. The petitioners’ third ground was that Feyemi’s election “was invalid by reason of substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended);” and fourth, that Fayemi’s election “was invalid by reason of corrupt practices.” In relation to the first ground, the petitioners urged the tribunal to hold that Fayemi was disqualified or not qualified to contest election to the office of Governor of Ekiti S      tate having allegedly been indicted for fraud against the interest of the state by the Justice Silas Oyewole-judicial commission of inquiry set up by the state government. They claimed that the state government subsequently accepted the indictment and issued a white paper based on the commission’s reccommendation. In relation to the second, third and fourth grounds, the petitioners urged the tribunal to upturn Fayemi’s victory and declare that Olusola scored the highest number of lawful votes cast and therefore the winner of the election. In the alternative, the petitioners prayed the tribunal to declare the election inconclusive and order supplementary election in places where it found that the election was not properly conducted. In further alternative, the petitioners sought a total cancellation of the election and urged the tribunal to order fresh governorship election in the state. INEC’s response In its response, the first respondent (INEC) filed a notice of objection and a reply to the petition. In its objection, INEC faulted some portions of the petition where the petitioners made criminal allegations against some unidentified individuals, and where the individuals were identified, they were not made parties to the petition. INEC argued that the non-inclusion of the identified individuals, against who criminal allegations were made, denied them the right to fair hearing and to attend court to defend themselves against the allegations. INEC said contrary to the petitoioners’ claim, the election was held in substantial compliance with relevant laws and under a conducive atmosphere. Fayemi, APC’s response The second and third respondents (APC and Fayemi) filed notices of objection and replied the petition. In their notices of objection, they faulted the aspect of the petition dealing with the petitioners’ claim that Fayemi was not  qualified by virtue of the said indictment by the Justice Oyewole commission. They argued that indictment by commission of inquiry or any other administrative body for embezzlement or fraud no longer forms a factor for disqualifying a candidate from contesting  election. They added that Section 182(1)(i), on which the claim was based, has since been deleted from the Constitution by virtue of the First Alteration Act 2010. APC and Fayemi insisted that the election was duly held. They denied the petitioners’ allegations of corrupt practices, non-compliance with the Electoral Act, among others and urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition. The trial After all the preliminary proceedings, including the pre-hearing session, trial commenced last October 17 when the petitioners opened their case. They closed their case last November 1 after calling 71 witnesses and tendering 2,952 documents. The first respondent (INEC) conducted its case between November 5 and 14, 2018 during which it called 16 witnesses and tendered 31 documents. The second respondent (APC) conducted its case between November 15 and 16, during which it called 43 witnesses and tendered no document. The third respondent (Fayemi) opened his defence on November 20 and closed on November 29, 2018 after calling four witnesses and rendering two documents. One of the documents he tendered was the judgment by Justice A. O. Musa of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Bwari, Abuja in the suit marked: FCT/HC...

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