THE Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate in Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has disagreed with the Thursday verdict of the Justice Bukar Bwala state Election Petitions Tribunal upholding the controversial election of Governor Segun Oni, saying that he would appeal the judgment.
Fayemi, who addressed journalists few hours after the judgment in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital described the judgment as a travesty of justice, saying that he was disappointed and surprised about the verdict of the tribunal.
According to him: “The judgment of the tribunal marked the end of first phase of the struggle and the beginning of transition to the second phase and final phase of the struggles” hoping that the appellate court would do justice to the matter.
He said: “With the plethora of evidence presented at the tribunal, the tribunal still shoved them aside and ruled in favour of PDP which did not make a single attempt at clearing the baggage of electoral accusations laid at its doorstep.
“The judgment was not based on facts and evidences before the tribunal; we are going ahead to challenge the judgment at the Court of Appeal, where we believe that ultimate justice would be done and we still believe that the judiciary harbours respectable men and women that would right the wrongs”, he stated.
Fayemi had challenged the controversial April 14, 2007 election of Oni before the tribunal, claiming that the election was marred with widespread irregularities and prayed the tribunal to upturn the election and declare him winner of the said election.
There was a low key jubilation in the state capital, as majority of the people of the state capital were observed not to be comfortable with the verdict of the tribunal.
Apart from the governor, who rode in a motorcade in company of members of his kitchen cabinet and PDP supporters and moved round the state capital, majority of the people of the state were observed to have felt dis-satisfied with the judgment as they were heard hissing at the convoy of the governor.
Though, the tribunal agreed that the irregularities and malpractices characterized the result of the election as there was over-voting in the result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but ruled that the irregularities did not affect the said election.
Meanwhile, the State Chairman of AC, Mr. Jide Awe, who also addressed journalists immediately after the judgment flayed the verdict, saying that the decision of the tribunal was not in the best interest of Ekiti people, who were allegedly robbed of their votes.
While stating that the tribunal has done its best by dismissing the petition, Awe vowed that AC and its governorship candidate would appeal the judgment, adding that the first chapter of getting justice has just been closed and the next phase would be opened soonest.
He also flayed the tribunal for identifying that there were a lot of discrepancies in the result of the election, but went ahead to uphold the declaration of the governor, saying that the calculations of the tribunal had shown that many things are wrong with the election.
The INEC declared 177,780 votes for Oni and 108,305 for Fayemi in the April 14, 2007 governorship poll, but the tribunal nullified some of the votes declared by the electoral commission unlawful, which were unanimously deducted by the tribunal from the result declared by INEC.
The tribunal having identified that there were irregularities in the result announced by INEC and deducted the unlawful votes from the result, the final figure indicated that Oni polled 135,400 votes, while Fayemi polled 74, 306 votes.
In the verdict, Bwala admitted that many things were wrong with the election but held that the petitioner could not prove most of the allegations of electoral malpractices beyond reasonable doubt.
Also, the tribunal discountenanced the evidences of the forensic experts called by the petitioner and respondents (Mr. Adrian Forty, John Lazaretto, Tunde Yadeka and Foluso Aluko) respectively, saying that none of the witnesses demonstrated absolute neutrality.
The panel held that the evidence of the forensic experts of the petitioners and the respondents was at cross-edge and attached no value to their evidences.
Meanwhile, an investigation conducted by OSUN DEFENDER revealed that the state governor and his team were in the know of what the decision of the tribunal would be, as the deputy governor, Dr Sikiru Lawal had reportedly told some selected people a day to the judgment that they would move round the town in jubilation convoy immediately after the tribunal’s verdict.
By KAZEEM MOHAMMED IN ADO-EKITI