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 Tribunal upholds Mimiko's victory

The three-member Ondo Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Friday upheld the declaration of Governor Olusegun Mimiko as the winner of the October 2012 governorship election in the state.

The Independent National Electoral Commission had on October 21, 2012, announced Mimiko as the winner of the poll, which was widely adjudged as free, fair and very credible by local and foreign election observers and monitors.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Andovar Kaka'an dismissed the petitions of Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu of the Action Congress of Nigeria and Chief Olusola Oke of the Peoples Democratic Party for lacking in merit.

Kaka'an added that the petitioners and their witnesses failed to prove beyond reasonable doubts, allegations of irregularities, violence and non-compliance with the Electoral Act pleaded in the suits.

Kaka'an also ruled that the issue of illegal injection of voter register allegedly carried out by the Independent National Electoral Commission was a pre-election matter that should have been challenged at a high court before the October 20, 2012 election.

He said since INEC had supplied soft copies of the voter register 30 days before the poll to all parties in the election, anyone who discovered any form of irregularity should have approached a high court to complain.

The panel also dismissed the reports of the expert witnesses of the petitioners, because apart from the fact that their submissions were discovered not to be factual, they confessed during cross-examination that their services were not at the instance of the court.

Kaka'an further held that there was no evidence supplied either by the petitioners or their witnesses to justify the fact that the 164,072 names allegedly injected into the 2012 register by INEC was done in collaboration with the Labour Party, whose candidate won the poll.

He added that there was no proof to show that either Mimiko, who won the poll, or his party benefited from the alleged injection of the register with illegal voters.

He said the expert witnesses confessed during cross-examination by counsel to the defendants that they carried out their assignments for financial considerations and that their clients needed their report to substantiate claims in their petitions.

He declared that all the submissions of Akeredolu and Oke in their petitions and the evidences of their witnesses were "bundles of primary and secondary hearsay, which failed woefully to substantiate their claims.

The panel chairman said the petitioners were inconsistent and failed to substantiate their allegations with adequate proofs.

He said, "The petitioners failed woefully to prove their allegations of crimes allegedly perpetrated during the poll by the defendants beyond any reasonable doubts.

"No single witness testified that he or she did not vote or that the votes were taken away to unauthorised places after the election while no police report, which indicated violence during the election, was tendered by any of the parties.

"The issues relating to the voter register are pre-election matters which the tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain."

The tribunal also carpeted the petitioners for their failure to extend pleadings to all the polling units in the state while none of them brought a single voter card or ballot box to the court to prove their allegations of non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2010.

He stated that none of the witnesses called by the petitioners actually witnessed the commission of crimes during the election by the defendants but relied substantially on information from their friends and party members.

He, therefore, dismissed both suits for lacking in merit and their inability to prove all allegations raised beyond reasonable doubts.

However, both Akeredolu and Oke had said their legal teams had been directed to start a fresh process to appeal the judgment.

Oke said, "The ruling fell short of the expectation of the Ondo State people and we shall challenge it at the Court of Appeal.

"The party is not surprised as we had earlier reported the compromising attitude of this panel, when it erroneously struck out the name of our party and vital paragraphs of our petition, which we challenged at the Appeal Court and our prayers were upheld.

"We are consulting as a party with our candidate, Chief Olusola Oke and the national leadership of the party and our legion of counsel on the next step we are going to take."

Akeredolu, through a statement by the Publicity Secretary of the ACN in the state, Mr. Rotimi Agbede, also expressed his resolve to head for the appellate court.

He said, "It is rather unfortunate that the trial judges chose to close their eyes on the overwhelming oral and documentary evidences presented by the petitioners even when INEC principally refused to defend itself at the tribunal.

"The ruling of the tribunal, no doubt, had put the judiciary on trial in the open court of the people who relied heavily on the courts to dispense justice without fair or favour."

But Mimiko said the verdict had confirmed that the Nigerian judiciary was living up to its role as the final impartial arbiter in all contentious matters.

He said, "We, as government, are mindful of the onerous task of meeting the development challenges of our people; we know that the fostering of understanding between the government and the people will engender a more conducive environment for the deepening of the dividends of good governance."

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Tribunal upholds Mimiko's victory
« on: May 04, 2013, 02:10:15 PM »

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