Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Governor-Elect of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has hired 35 lawyers and assembled 1,009 witnesses to defend his victory at the recent governorship election in the state.
Fayemi yesterday filed his defence to the petition written by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and outgoing Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Professor Kolapo Olusola Eleka at the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital.
Fayemi polled a total of 197, 459 votes to defeat Olusola, who got 178, 223 votes in the keenly contested election.
Olusola, who was the candidate of the PDP in the July 14 governorship election, had a couple of weeks ago filed a 700-page petition against Fayemi’s victory.
Olusola asked the tribunal to declare him winner of the election , having polled the highest number of lawfull votes in the election.
The PDP’s candidate accused the APC of using the federal might to muzzle opposition , while also accusing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of falsifying results in Fayemi’s favour.
In the 2,558-page defence with over 3,000 documents as exhibits, Fayemi averred that he won the gubernatorial election of July 14, 2018 and urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition of Eleka for lack of merit.
The team of lawyers armed with 3,500 exhibits and 1,009 witnesses , were led to the tribunal by three Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), Mr Hakeem AfoIabi, Mr. Yomi Aliyu and Dr. Kayode Olatoke.
Addressing journalists after filing the defence, Dr. Kayode Olatoke (SAN), who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said Eleka’s petition was a waste of time as it lacked substance and would be dismissed by the tribunal.
He explained further that Fayemi won fair and square in 12 out of the 16 Local Governments Areas (LGAs) of the state, while Eleka won in four.
In his response to Eleka’s petition bordering on alleged over -voting in some polling units, Olatoke dismissed this claim as frivolous and baseless.
He said Eleka’s first ground in his petition is based on Fayemi’s phantom indictment, which had been nullified and set aside by a competent court.
“The second ground of Eleka’s petition is alleged over voting, which is another false claim. In any case, the petition in itself is self-defeating.
“The third ground is on deliberate voiding of votes as alleged by Eleka but in actual fact, majority of the voided ballots were votes meant for Fayemi, while the fourth ground is on vote buying which is baseless as it was, Eleka’s sponsor, Fayose that was guilty of this.
“Fayemi won convincingly based on his popularity,” Olatoke said.
Other senior lawyers in the team representing Dr Fayemi and the APC are Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Hakeem Afolabi (SAN), John Baiyeshea (SAN), Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), Jelili Owonikoko (SAN), Yomi Aliyu (SAN) and Segun Ajibola (SAN).
No date has been fixed for hearing.