Jegede loses to Akeredolu at Tribunal

• Verdict reflects the law, peoples wish -Akeredolu• We are sure of victory at the Appeal Court, Jegede, PDP

The Ondo State Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Akure, on Tuesday, dismissed the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Eyitayo Jegede against the winner of the October 10, 2020, Governorship Election in the state, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu.

In a Virtual judgement that was scheduled to hold on Wednesday but was rescheduled on Monday night to Tuesday, Justice Umar Abubakar led the tribunal, struck out the petition of the PDP and Jegede for lack of jurisdiction.

The Tribunal ruled that “issue raised therein in this petition are settled the issue of internal affairs and management of a political party which this Tribunal has no jurisdiction.”

The tribunal ruled that Akeredolu and his Deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa were duly nominated and sponsored by the APC in line with section 177 of the constitution and section 31 of the Electoral Act.

Justice Abubakar said the electoral laws did not specify who to submit the names of candidates of the party, noting that the APC chairman submitted the names of the candidates of the party in the election for administrative convenience.

The Tribunal ruled that “The Tribunal cannot determine whether Mai Bala Buni, the governor of Yobe state is illegally occupying the seat of Caretaker Chairman of the Planning Committee of the extraordinary convention of the APC,”

He, however, said Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa demonstrated without the benefit of the doubt that they were duly sponsored by a political party, while the submission of the names of Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa by Buni led Caretaker Committee at the instance of the party’s NEC was not disputed by the petitioners.

The Tribunal further said that Buni’s membership as a member of APC was also not in doubt or disputed by the petitioners, saying “there is also evidence to confirm that the APC as the sponsor complied with the law in the process for the submission of the names of its candidates, Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa. Jegede’s case is flawed and hereby dismissed.”

The Court however upheld that the re-election of Akeredolu, saying the governor was validly re-elected as the governor of the state.

The Tribunal said that no extra cost will be awarded to any of the parties involved in the petition as parties would be made to bear their costs while the Chairman of the Tribunal said copies of the judgment would be made available to concerned parties.

In his reaction after the judgement, Akeredolu hailed the judgement of the Tribunal and described the judgement as a true reflection of the position of the law and the collective wish of the people.

Akeredolu said there was no grudge against anyone over the petition brought before the Tribunal by Eyitayo Jegede and the PDP in the October 10, 2020 governorship election.

He said “For every purpose and mission endorsed by God, the will to navigate the clouds of uncertainties and the path of thorns becomes stronger if backed by faith.

“In our own case, our faith is unshakable. It is, therefore, with gratitude to God that we accept the verdict of the Honourable Tribunal.

“We have gone through this legal process and the path of Justice with the hope that the true position of the law shall once again, be examined and exposed. The industry and legal expertise demonstrated by the Honourable Tribunal has corroborated this desire.

“We were equally enamoured by the inexorable quest to renew our social bond with the good people of State while the legal tussle was on. In an unambiguous manner, the Tribunal verdict has further fermented this bond and strengthened the wish of the people.

“Notwithstanding, the legal process was not just part of our democratic culture. Legal paths, without doubt, provide in some cases, certain opportunities that permeate fresh frontiers.

“Therefore, the ability to extend the hands of friendship, the courage to absorb even the undeserving as well as the magnanimity to reinvigorate old, laxed relationships without grudges is what makes a real democrat. I hold no grudges against anyone.

“Once again, the good people of Ondo State, without any stratification, remain my constituents. We shall together, move the State to higher and loftier heights.

“For my brother, friend and colleague, Eyitayo Jegede, my respect for him cannot wane and I enjoin him to join hands with us in this Ondo Project. There is no victor, no vanquished.”

However, Jegede, while reacting to the judgement said he might appeal the ruling to the tribunal but said he would have to study the judgment and know the next steps within the next 60 days period for him to appeal.

He said, “I will consult with my Counsel. We will look at the judgment. We have 60 days. We will look at what they have read critically.

“Let us be hopeful. There are legal issues involved. We are interested in good governance.”

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state has hailed the judgment of the State Governorship Election Tribunal, describing it as a victory for the people of the state, who abandoned everything on October 10, last year, to cast their votes.

The party, in a statement issued and signed by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Alex Kalejaye, congratulated the state Caretaker Chairman, Engr. Ade Adetimehin, its candidate in the election, Akeredolu, his running mate, Hon. Lucky Ayedatiwa, supporters of APC and the people of the state over the verdict.

The party commended the Tribunal for being dispassionate and objective in considering all the arguments and counter-arguments assembled before it, while the trial lasted.

The party further showers appreciation on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for sticking to what is constitutional, fair and reasonable.

The party wonders how a candidate that scored three over 18 in an examination could expect to be declared successful, adding “the Peoples Democratic Party wanted victory through the backdoor”.

The party advised the main opposition party to accept the judgment in good faith, and put its house in order, why preparing for future elections.

Also, the PDP through its state Publicity Secretary, Kennedy Peretei, said the party would contest the ruling of the Tribunal at the Appeal Court, saying “the party will appeal the judgement of the tribunal delivered virtually today.

“It is important to stress that, in its wisdom, the Tribunal admitted that issues raised by the petitioners were sufficient for consideration but Constitutional, which the Tribunal is not in a position to do justice to.

“The interpretation of the Constitution is a role reserved exclusively for the highest Court in the land- the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

“The Constitution of every country is the document that regulates actions and behaviour of her citizens.

“Therefore, it is our belief that nobody can flagrantly trample on the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) and escape with the excuse that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction.

Peretei said “The PDP is convinced that we have a strong case for which we shall be vindicated at the end of the day.

“We wish to appeal to all our party faithful to be steadfast and remain calm in the present circumstance, as we are sure of victory in the long run”

Akeredolu, the APC candidate in the October 10, 2020 governorship election was declared the winner of the contest by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

Irked by the outcome of the election, Jegede through his Counsel, Mr Onyechi Ikpeasu (SAN) challenged the victory of Akeredolu at the poll.

Jegede hinged his petition on the ground that Akeredolu was not validly nominated by his party, APC, during the party’s shadow election.

Jegede also argued that Akeredolu and his deputy, Ayedatiwa were not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast and prayed the Election petition tribunal to upturn the victory of the APC candidate and the party.

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