Tribunal Reserves Judgment on Ekiti Governorship Tussle

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja wednesday reserved judgment to a date that would be communicated to parties in the governorship election suit later.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Suleiman Belgore, however, stated that parties would be informed 48 hours to the delivery of the tribunal’s verdict.

The petition which was filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Prof Kolapo Olusola, is challenging the victory of Dr. Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the last year’s governorship poll in the state.

At yesterday’s proceedings, counsel in the matter presented their final written addresses.

Counsel to the petitioners, represented by Yusuf Ali (SAN), urged the tribunal to nullify Fayemi’s victory on the grounds that he (Fayemi) was not qualified to have stood for the July 2018 election having been barred from seeking elective office for 10 years on the strength of his indictment by the Justice Oyewole Commission of Inquiry.

Ali also urged the tribunal to uphold the sanctity of the country’s electoral process by nullifying the election based on alleged malpractices, like over voting, deliberate voiding of votes meant for the petitioners among others.

However, counsel to Fayemi, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for being baseless and lacking in merit.

Fagbemi contended that the purported indictment of his client by the commission of inquiry and based on Section 182 has been deleted from the constitution by the first alteration in 2010.

He added that the petitioners erred in basing the petition on a section of the law that was deleted eight years ago.

Specifically, he stated that his client cannot be punished for an offence not captured in law.

While he noted that all allegations against the election of Fayemi were criminal in nature, Fagbemi submitted that the petitioners however failed woefully to prove their allegations.

On the allegation of voiding of votes, he stated that throughout the hearing of the petition, no single ballot paper was tendered before the tribunal to support the claims of the petitions.

Similarly, counsel to the APC, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the APC governorship candidate was not lawfully indicted by the Oyewole Commission of Inquiry as required by law.

He submitted that the purported indictment and the 10-year ban were based on the alleged disrespect of Fayemi to the commission by his refusal to appear before it.

Counsel to INEC, Chief Charles Uwensuyi-Edosomwan (SAN), urged the tribunal to uphold the election on the ground that the electoral body conducted the election in substantial compliance with the laws.

The tribunal, after taken the submissions of counsel in the matter, subsequently announced that judgment is adjourned to a date that would be communicated to the
parties.