Governor Olusegun Mimiko
Judgement reflects supremacy of the people, says governor
By James Sowole
The Ondo State Election Petition Tribunal yesterday dismissed the petitions of the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Chief Olusola Oke and that of the Action Congress of Nigeria and its candidate, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu against the return of Dr Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour Party as the winner of the October 20, 2012 governorship election in the state.
The tribunal presided over by Justice Andovar Kaka’an in the judgement read by him on the consolidated hearing of the petitions, subsequently upheld the return of Mimiko as the duly elected governor of the state as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
However, the two petitioners in their reactions have vowed to challenge the judgment of the three- man tribunal in the higher court.
The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations of malpractices, violence, irregularities, non-compliant of the election with the Electoral Act as amended among other allegations, beyond reasonable doubt.
The judge said the responsibilities of proving the stated allegations beyond reasonable doubt and to convince the panel that those alleged acts actually took place fell substantially on the petitioners.
Kaka’an flanked by the Justice Mohammad and Grand Khadi Alkali held that many of the petitioners witlessness did not actually witness the alleged acts “but rely substantially on hearsay which is not admissible in law.”
The judge said the evidences were at variance with the pleadings in the petition “and full of contradictions which made their evidences unreliable” and were subsequently discountenanced.
On the allegation of illegal injection of new names into the voter register used for the 2011 election and which increased the register used for the 2012 governorship election by over 1,000 new names, the tribunal held that the issue of voter register was a pre-election matter.
Kaka’an held that since all the political parties were given the voter register about 30 days before the election in line with the Electoral Act as amended, the aggrieved parties ought to have approached the high court to challenge the matter.
He therefore declared that the petitioners have failed to prove “that the so called injected names actually voted during the election or that the respondent (MImiko) benefitted from the alleged injection of names in the register.”
Kaka’an said the petitioners have also failed to prove “that their complaints substantially affected the outcome of the election; to show that they would have won the election or that the first respondent (Mimiko) would not have won the election.”
While the counsels to Mimiko, LP and INEC applauded the judgment and "painstaking manner" in which the tribunal carried out the assignment and asked for costs, counsels to the ACN and PDP candidates said they would study the judgment and know the next action to take.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko said: The judgment has actually showed the supremacy of the will of the people in electoral contest. 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.”
He enjoined the opposition party members to join hands with the government in the task of developing the state and its people.
However, the PDP candidate rejected the judgement which he described as not reflecting the wish of the people of the state who had been craving for a change.