The Ekiti State governorship election tribunal led by its Chairman, Suleiman Belgore, has upheld Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress,APC, as winner of the July 14, 2018 gubernatorial election in the state, naming him the duly elected governor of the state.
In a unanimous judgment on Monday, the tribunal, which sat in Abuja, struck out the petition filed by Prof. Kolapo Olusola of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stressing that the various allegations raised against the election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, were not proved as required by law.
The tribunal held that rather than establishing the allegations of corruption, malpractices, ballot box snatching, non-accreditation, over voting and deliberate voiding of votes, the petitioners dumped worthless documents on the tribunal without demonstrating them.
Belgore said contrary to the claims of the petitioners, Fayemi was duly and lawfully returned as winner of majority votes by INEC.
The tribunal opined that it was established, beyond reasonable doubt, that the APC candidate in the election scored 197,459 votes as against the 178,121 votes scored by Olusola to emerge winner of the poll.
While reviewing the petition, Justice Belgore stated that 71 witnesses were called by the petitioners to testify as against 926 witnesses listed to be invited to testify for them, adding that the 71 witnesses were scanty and insufficient to establish the fact of the various issues raised in the petition.
Specifically, the tribunal took judicial notice that out of 2,158 polling units in the state, the conduct of the election was challenged in 1,458 units, while only 41 polling agents were called to testify as to what transpired in the areas in dispute.
The judge held that calling 41 polling agents as witnesses out of 1,458 polling units was fatal to the case of the petitioners because the 41 agents invited as witnesses were too scanty and grossly few to make any impact in the petition.
Besides, the tribunal also held that written depositions by the petitioners’ witnesses were haphazardly done and, in the process, no probative value could be attached to the depositions by the tribunal.
Belgore dismissed the petitioners’ claims that Fayemi, at the time of the election, was not qualified to stand for governorship election on the ground of his alleged indictment by the Justice Oyewole commission of inquiry.
Justice Belgore said the tribunal perused the report which prohibited Fayemi from holding public office for 10 years and found that the recommendation for the ban was due to non-appearance of Fayemi before the commission and not on embezzlement of public funds as required by the law.
Contrary to the law, the tribunal also held that there was no evidence that the agents of the petitioners were forced to sign the result sheets which they did on the election day.
Justice Belgore, therefore, agreed that the governor was lawfully returned as the governor of Ekiti State and that the petition against him failed because it lacked merit and was, therefore, dismissed in its entirety.