- APC Kicks as PDP hails judgment
John Shiklam in Kaduna and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Court of Appeal, sitting in Kaduna wednesday depleted the rank of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senate caucus, removing the upper chamber’s spokesman, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, and replaced him with former minority leader, Senator Abiodun Olujimi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The APC in Ekiti State immediately rejected the verdict, saying it did not reflect the wish of the people. But the PDP hailed it as the restoration of the people’s mandate.
Both senators contested Ekiti South Senatorial District seat in the February 23, 2019 National Assembly election.
The Court of Appeal nullified the election of Adeyeye and ordered INEC to issue a certificate of return to his challenger, Olujimi, who it said won the election, upholding the election petition tribunal’s September verdict in favour of the PDP candidate.
The election tribunal had nullified the declaration of Adeyeye as the winner of the election and declared Olujimi as the authentic winner.
In her petition, Olujimi had asked the election petition tribunal to nullify Adeyeye’s victory on the grounds that the election was marred by massive rigging and irregularities.
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 irregularities.
But not satisfied with the outcome of the tribunal judgment, Adeyeye approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of the tribunal.
In the judgment delivered yesterday in Kaduna, Justice Uzor Anyanwu upheld the judgment of the tribunal and ordered INEC to issue a certificate of return to Olujimi.
INEC had declared Adeyeye as winner of the February 23, 2019 National Assembly election.
Olujimi, who was the incumbent senator representing the senatorial district during the election had challenged the result at the tribunal, saying she should have been declared the winner, having scored the highest number of votes cast.
Adeyeye was until a few weeks to the election, a member of the PDP where he served as its spokesman and was one of the fiercest critics of the APC.
But following his disagreement with the then governor of the state, Mr. Ayo Fayose, he joined the APC and was given the ticket to contest for the senatorial election.
There was wild jubilation among the members of the PDP in the state following the appeal court judgment wednesday.
The victory dance was more visible in Omuo Ekiti, Olujimi’s hometown and headquarters of Ekiti East Local Government, where the crowd trooped to the streets to praise the judiciary for its steadfastness.
Also reacting to the judgment, the PDP said the decisions of both the lower tribunal and the appeal court did not come as a surprise because the result declared by the INEC did not reflect the votes cast in the first instance.
In a statement by its state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jackson Adebayo, the PDP berated INEC for colluding with the APC to steal the mandate, which was given to Olujimi and PDP at the poll.
“We want to assure all our members that with the victory of Senator Olujimi, there is a great future for the party; what we just need is to walk in unison towards subsequent elections in the state, ” it stated.
But the APC rejected the Court of Appeal judgment, saying that it did not reflect the wishes of the voters.
APC, in a statement by its Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Sam Oluwalana, said: “The judgment, delivered earlier today (yesterday), can best be described as a travesty of justice and robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
He described the short period spent by Adeyeye in the Senate as indelible and remarkable for the people of Ekiti South and the state.