It was a case of mixed reaction in Ado-Ekiti when the Election Petition Tribunal upheld the victory of Governor Kayode Fayemi. Members of the ruling All Progressive Congress, (APC) trooped into the streets, hailing the outcome of the case. Raphael Adeyanju writes.
It was like a broom festival. Everyone on sight was with a bunch of broom dotted in multiple colours. Of course, the broom is the logo of the All Progressives Congress, the current federal and Ekiti state ruling party. The cause of joy and jubilation around the cities in the state was the court decision in favour of the APC.
The PDP through its candidate in the governorship election had contested the INEC’s declaration of the candidate of the APC, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the winner of the gubernatorial polls resulting that the result be declared null and void.
But with the court decision, Ado Ekiti went agog as broom-wielding party members danced from Odo Ado area to the government house and ended their procession at the party’s secretariat in Ajilosun area of the capital city.
The Tribunal in its judgement delivered by Justice Suleiman Belgore said Fayemi was validly elected in the July 14, 2018 governorship election, contrary to the position canvassed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Prof Kolapo Olusola. The PDP candidate in his prayer had sought the invalidation of the INEC’s declaration that Fayemi was the winner of the election.
In the July 14 election, Fayemi polled a total of 197,459 to defeat Olusola, who scored a total votes of 178, 022 to emerge runner-up. The Tribunal began sitting in Ekiti last year August before it relocated to Abuja citing cases of insecurity in the state.
The APC members, who started their jubilation from Odo Ado, a section of Ado Ekiti metropolis, were led by a House of Representatives candidate in Ekiti Central federal constituency I, Hon Sola Fatoba and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Mobilisation, Hon Tunji Ogunlola.
Ogunlola, while addressing the crowd, said Fayemi worked very hard to win the election and that the judgement had confirmed the position of the party. They danced to the music being supplied by a popular musician in Ekiti followed by a long convoy of vehicles, which caused traffic logjam along Ado-Ikere-Akure road.
Meanwhile, the APC had described the victory as expected, saying the party perpetrated no electoral heist in the election to warrant the nullification of its outcome.
The State Deputy Chairman of the party, Hon Sola Elesin said: “We are happy over the outcome of the election, but we are not in any way surprised because transparent election was held in the July 14 governorship election.
“It was clear that Governor Fayemi won fair and square, so we are not afraid even if they want to appeal the judgement. We are ready for them because we have no skeleton in our cupboard. There were no cases of electoral malpractices.
“We had won two litigations since Fayemi came on board. He was taken to the court on his eligibility to contest the APC governorship primary and he won.
“He was taken to the Election petition Tribunal, he also came out victorious. We will continue to win because we have no skeleton in our cupboard”, he said.
While the ruling party had every reason to be in jubilant mood and could actually organised party to celebrate their victory, members of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), had different feeling.
They were in tears and in some mental and physical agony over what they perceived to be unfair decision. They were opposed to the Federal High Court decision that adjudged Dr. Kayode Fayemi to have been fairly elected. The PDP therefore have rejected the judgment and has vowed to go to the Court of Appeal.
Court of Appeal
However, the PDP candidate in the governorship election and petitioner in the case, Prof Olusola, said the party will appeal the judgement. Olusola, who spoke through the Director of Media of his campaign organization, Lere Olayinka, said:
“That is not the last bus stop as regards the election petition tribunal. The law is very clear regarding the hierarchies of courts we can approach to seek redress on this issue. We are surely going to appeal the judgement”, Olusola said.
Former Governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose has declared that he was not surprised by today’s verdict of the tribunal on the petition filed by the PDP and its candidate, Prof Kolapo Olusola, saying; “The judgement was already in the public domain and celebrated by the APC more than a week before today.”
Fayose, while reacting to the tribunal judgement, dismissing the PDP petition, said he would have been surprised at the outcome of the judgement if it had been otherwise because the judiciary was already coerced by the APC led federal government.
According to his Media Aide, Lere Olayinka, the former governor said the judgement will be appealed and the case pursued to the Supreme court, assuring that justice will prevail ultimately.
He enjoined Nigerians and Ekiti people to keep hope alive against what he called perversion, suppression and gagging of judges and by extension the judiciary.
His words: “In fact, the judgement was in public domain and celebrated by APC since the last few days.
“In the face of all these shenanigans, I still want to congratulate our candidate, my beloved Deputy Governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola. Be assured Victory is ahead.”
Fayemi offers olive branch
Governor Fayemi expressed delight over the judgement saying it was victory for Ekiti people and democracy. Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Olayinka Oyebode, he hailed the judgement as another proof that the wishes of the people would always prevail.
”It is a victory for all Ekiti people. This is democracy at work. This is a reflection of the wishes of our people and I dedicate the victory to our people.
“It is a great day for democracy. And the judiciary has proven again that it is the last hope of the common man. We shall now continue with the task of rebuilding our state and restoring the core values of our people without any iota of distraction,” he said.
The former Minister of Solid Minerals Development also urged his main challenger, the PDP candidate, Prof Olusola Eleka, to join hands with him and the rest of Ekiti people to the state to the next level of development and prosperity.
“It is a great day for democracy. And the judiciary has proven again that it is the last hope of the common man. We shall now continue with the task of rebuilding our state and restoring the core values of our people without any iota of distraction.
“It is a victory for all of us and together we shall restore the state’s lost glory. Our desire is to bring back peace, progress and prosperity to Ekiti State. The journey has just begun.
“I call on the PDP candidate, Prof. Olusola Kolapo, who is an illustrious son of the state, to join us in the efforts to take the state to the next level of development and prosperity,” he said.