The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Ado Ekiti, on Tuesday, nullified the election of Dayo Adeyeye – a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) – as the winner of the Ekiti South Senatorial poll.
Concise News reports that the tribunal, in a unanimous ruling, consequently declared the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Biodun Olujimi, the winner of the February 23 election.
Nigeria’s electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had announced that the APC candidate polled 77,621 votes to defeat the then Senate Minority Leader, who scored 53,741 votes.
Olujimi rejects results
Olujimi, who served as Minority Leader in the eighth Senate, had approached the tribunal, praying that she be declared the actual winner of the election, after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declaration Adeyeye as winner.
According to her, she scored the highest number of lawful votes cast during the keenly contested poll.
In the alternative, Olujimi prayed the tribunal to nullify Adeyeye’s victory and order supplementary election accordingly in the district.
In her written address, the petitioner claimed that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Acts, having been allegedly fraught with all manner of irregularities.
She prayed the tribunal to annul votes in areas that were found to be incredibly marred by irregularities; over voting, multiple thump printing, ballot paper snatching, ballot paper stuffing and improper vote counting should be cancelled, to know the actual winner of the poll.
The petitioner also accused INEC of dereliction of duties, saying that most of the documents used for the conduct of the election were not duly signed by agents.
But the respondents countered the submission, saying that INEC did what was right and constitutional by declaring the candidate of the APC the winner, having found to have got the highest number of lawful votes.
Delivering the judgment, the three-man tribunal, led by Justice D.D. Adeck, nullified elections in some polling units, to declare Olujimi the authentic winner.
Eventually, Olujimi polled a total of 54,894 to emerge victorious over Adeyeye, who polled 52,243.
Adeck added that apart from the nullification in some units, the outcome of the tribunal’s verdict was predicated on the recount of the ballots by the contending forces, as granted by the court.
He said for the petitioner to be so declared, she must prove those cases of criminal allegations of non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Acts and other corrupt practices raised in her petition, beyond reasonable doubt, which he said, she did.
The tribunal said that in Ikere, Gbonyin and Emure LocalGgovernments, the petitioner was able to prove cases of over voting and votes in those units were expunged from the ballots.
On the voting patterns, the tribunal said: “it is not tenable to say that marked ballot papers were not properly deposited in the boxes, because when this happens, then it will lead to over voting and will affect counting at every level of collation.
“To avoid this pitfall, those elections must be expunged in order not to vitiate the electoral process. Therefore, after those votes were deducted, the PDP was left with 54, 894 while the respondent polled 52, 243.
“The petitioner, having polled the highest number of lawful votes, should be declared the winner of the election.
“We hereby declare the petitioner the winner and she is hereby returned elected.
“We hereby direct INEC to withdraw the certificate of return from the respondent and issue same to the petitioner.”