Akeredolu not validly nominated as APC candidate, says Jegede

The Ondo State Election Petition Tribunal on Tuesday resumed sitting with the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the October 10 governorship election in the state, Eyitayo Jegede, claiming the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu was not validly nominated by the party.

Jegede who came second in the election, petitioned the Tribunal, challenging the victory of Akeredolu in the election and premised his argument on the ground that the APC Caretaker Chairman and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, cannot function in duo capacity, saying as a sitting governor he cannot also function as the Caretaker Chairman of the party.

The PDP candidate maintained that the nomination of Akeredolu as the party’s candidate was contrary to the APC constitution and 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

Giving evidence at the Election Petition Tribunal presided over by Justice Umar Abubakar, Jegede faulted both the selection process of the APC candidate and the collation of the election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC had declared Akeredolu as the winner of the election of the October 10 governorship election.

Dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, Jegede through his counsel, Mr Onyeachi Ikpeazu SAN approached the Tribunal to invalidate the victory of Akeredolu, tendering the election result, nomination form and the results of the election across the 18 local government areas of the state as exhibits.

However, after arguments for and against by counsels to the petitioner and the defendants, the three-man panel admitted all the exhibits by the petitioner before the Tribunal.

While cross-examining the petitioner, counsel to the defendants, Lateef Fagbemi and Akin Olujimi said Jegede who is not a member of APC should not interfere in the internal affairs of the APC and established that all issues that accompanied nomination by the APC took place long before the election in October.

The counsel to INEC, Charles Edonsanmiwan complained that the crux of Jegede’s petition is basically about APC’s primary and the emergence of Akeredolu as candidate when he is not a member of the APC.

He asked Jegede pointedly: “Mr. Jegede, are you a member of the All Progressives Congress?” The petitioner said no, adding, “I am a member of the PDP.”

Edosomwan argued that only authorised staff of the electoral body could be in a position to say if any candidate in an election has been wrongly credited with figures.

He told the petitioner: “You are not an electoral officer, and therefore, not in a position to know if figures were wrongly credited or not.”

In his response, Jejede argued that since he contested in the election with the APC candidate, he has every right to question the process that produced Akeredolu as the candidate for the election.

The tribunal, however, adjourned till Wednesday, January 13, 2021.

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