The Ekiti State governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja Friday affirmed the return of Governor Ayodele Fayose as the winner of the governorship election conducted by the Independent National Election Commission, INEC, last June.
The panel held that the witnesses paraded by the petitioner were unable to adduce concrete evidence to support the claims of corrupt practices at the polling units and that their testimonies did not support such claims that the election did not comply substantially with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“The testimonies of these witnesses are unsatisfactory and their inability to give the names of the polling units as well as the names of their agents at those unnamed polling units shows that most of them that gave evidence of these alleged non compliance did not vote at the election as such, their testimonies failed to support their claims. None of them gave evidence on the improper accreditation or manipulation of accreditation. The petitioner failed to substantiate the allegation of improper accreditation or non accreditation of voters,” the panel added.
The panel also held that failure of the petitioner to produce witnesses from most of the polling units to substantiate the allegation of improper and or non accreditation of voters at the polling units damaged the substance of the petition.
It also rejected the claim of the All Progressives Congress, APC that the election was systematically and scientifically conducted by the use of indelible photo chronic and vanishing inks that fades within minutes in such a way to favour the emergence of the Fayose at the election.
The panel also held that as at the time Fayose declared his interest to contest the Ekiti State governorship election, that the APC, was aware of his alleged disqualification and that the issue was already being canvassed before an Ekiti State High Court before the election which makes the issue a pre election matter which the election petition tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to entertain. And thereafter struck out that ground of the APC’s petition.
Similarly, the panel held that section 19 and 20 of the Electoral Act provides for the display of the voters register 30 days to the election and noted that a diligent political party ought to have complained against any failure by the electoral umpire to comply with that provision and insist that the issue of contravention of code of conduct, like the issue of Fayose’s non qualification, falls within those issues considered as pre election issues, and subsequently struct out that ground of the petition in favour of the PDP and Fayose.
On the inclusion of the Inspector General of Police and the Chief of Army Staff in the petition, the tribunal held that they are not necessary parties in the petition as they are not included in the provisions of section 137(2) and (3) of the Electoral Act where the classes of respondents in an election petition are listed and held that election petition matters are special proceedings which do not support the importation of persons not covered in the laws and further maintained that no single reliefs was claimed against the IGP or the COAS and thereafter struck their names from the petition.
The tribunal also struck out a greater chunk of the paragraphs of the petition on the ground that those paragraphs where made up of imprecise statements like “officers and men of the armed forces”, “agents of the PDP”, “harassment of the supporters of the petitioners”, “arresting of key supporters and chieftains of the petitioner” which had no names, descriptions or proper identifications of those persons who the petitioners are referring.
The panel held that those paragraphs are nebulous, speculative, not clear and confusing, and pointed out that the petitioners failed to provide the names of the polling units, where such harassment and intimidation of their supporters took place.