By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State has nullified the election of Senator Dayo Adeyeye as the winner of the National Assembly election in Ekiti South Senatorial District
Subsequently, the tribunal in a unanimous verdict, declared former Minority Leader and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Biodun Olujimi, winner of the senatorial poll.
Following the declaration of Adeyeye, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the February 23, 2019 senatorial election in Ekiti South senatorial district, the candidate of the PDP, Senator Olujimi, had approached the tribunal praving that she should be declared the actual winner of the election .
She submitted that she scored the highest number of lawful votes cast during the keenly contested poll.
In the alternative, Olujimi prayed the tribunal for the outright nullification of Adeyeye’s victory and order supplementary election accordingly in the district.
In her written address, the petitioner claimed that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, having been allegedly fraught with all manners of irregularities.
She prayed the tribunal to annul votes in areas that were found to be incredibly marked with irregularities like over voting, multiple thump printing, ballot snatching, ballot stuffing and improper ballot counting to know the actual winner of the poll.
The petitioner also accused INEC of dereliction of duties, saying most of the documents used for the conduct of the election were not duly signed by agents.
But the respondents countered the submission, saying INEC did what was right and constitutional, by declaring the candidate of the APC the winner having found him to have got the highest number of lawful votes.
Delivering the judgment, the three-man tribunal, led by Justice D.D. Adeck, nullified elections in some polling units to declare Olujimi the authentic winner of the polls.
Eventually, Olujimi polled a total of 54,894 to emerge victorious over the Senate Committee Chairman on Media and Publicity, who polled 52,243.
Justice Adeck added that apart from the nullification in some units, the outcome of the tribunal’s verdict was predicated on the recount of the ballots by the contending forces as granted by the court.
Justice Adeck said for the petitioner to be so declared, she must prove those cases of criminal allegations of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and other corrupt practices raised in her petition beyond reasonable doubt which he said she did.
The tribunal said in Ikere, Gbonyin and Emure Local Governments, the petitioner was able to prove cases of over voting and votes in those units were expunged from the ballot.
On the voting patterns, the tribunal said: “It is not tenable to say that marked ballots were not properly deposited in the boxes because when this did not happen, then it will lead to over voting and will affect counting at every level of collation.
“To avoid this pitfall, those elections must be expunged in order not to vitiate the electoral process. Therefore, after those votes were deducted, PDP was left with 54,894, while the respondent polled 52,243.
“The petitioner having polled the highest number of lawful votes should be declared the winner of the election.
“We hereby declare the petitioner the winner and she is hereby returned elected.
“We hereby direct the INEC to withdraw the certificate of return from the respondent and issue same to the petitioner”, he said .