The Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, declared Dr. Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the bona-fide winner of the July 14, 2018, governorship election in Ekiti State.
The tribunal, in a unanimous judgement by a three-man panel of Justices, said there was no merit in the petition the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate in the election, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, lodged to challenge Fayemi’s election victory.
It therefore dismissed the petition, maintaining that the petitioners failed to by way of credible evidence, prove that the election was marred by irregularities.
The lead verdict was read by Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Suleiman Belgore.
According to him, both PDP and its candidate were unable to substantiate their claim that the governorship election in many polling units were characterized by lack of accreditation, over-voting, mutilation of results, inacurate ballot account, snatching of election of materials, inducement of voters, irreconcilable figures and cancellation of results at polling units where they secured highest number of votes.
Justice Belgore held that “scanty evidence” the petitioners laid before the tribunal was not sufficient to warrant the annulment of votes credited to the APC.
He stressed that inability of the petitioners to call adequate witnesses to testify with regards to the polling units where the alleged irregularities occurred, amounted to dumping of evidence before the tribunal without pleadings.
Justice Belgore held that in the absence of credible evidence substantiated with pleadings, all the allegations raised by the petitioners were therefore deemed abandoned.
“Evidence of facts not pleaded goes to nothing”, the tribunal’s Chairman held.
He said the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, with respect to the Ekiti state governorship election, would continue to enjoy the presumption of regularity, until such presumption is displaced with credible evidence.
The tribunal held that scanty evidence before it, “did not resolve presumption of regularity in favour of the petitioners”.
“On the whole, we hold that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations on the balance of probability.
More so, the tribunal noted that some of the complaints raised by the petitioners were at variance with evidence they adduced before it.
“In fact, oral evidence of some of the witnesses called by the petitioners, strengthened the case of the Respondents”.
“It is clear that the irregularities claimed in the petition cannot be sustained. We found no reason to disturb the results”.
The Justice Belgore led panel said it was satisfied that the governorship election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act, adding that evidence of most of the witnesses brought by the petitioners were discredited during cross-examination.
He held that despite claims of deliberate destruction of its votes, “it is instructive that no single voided ballot paper was tendered before this tribunal”.
According to him, the onus was on the petitioners to prove most of the allegations which were criminal in nature, beyond every reasonable doubt.
It would be recalled that the tribunal had on January 9, reserved judgment on the matter after all the parties adopted their final written addresses.