The Ondo State Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, yesterday declared that there was ‘no victor and no vanquished,’ as the Election Petition Tribunal, that looked into complaints that emanated from the October 10, 2020 gubernatorial election in the state, dismissed the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN).
The petition, was dismissed by the tribunal, which delivered its judgment via a Zoom link and based its decision for want of jurisdiction.
The PDP and its candidate,had approached the tribunal, alleging that the election was characterised by irregularities and that the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, was not properly nominated.
During the tribunal proceedings that lasted about four months, petitioner and respondents engaged in legal fireworks.
Reading the judgment via Zoom Link, the Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Umar Abubakar, stated that “issue raised therein in this petition are settled issue of internal affairs and management of a political party.
The tribunal ruled that Akeredolu and his deputy, Mr. 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.
“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, ” the court ruled.
He said the Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa demonstrated without the benefit of the doubt that they were duly sponsored by a political party.
The Tribunal further said that Buni’s membership of the APC was also not disputed by the petitioners.
“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”.
Reacting to the tribunal’s decision, Akeredolu, said it was a victory for the people of the state.
Akeredolu said: “They have said that the Deputy Governor and I were duly returned as Deputy and Governor of the state. So, I must use this opportunity to thank the people of this state for the confidence they reposed in us.
“The people have spoken and they cannot be wrong. The result is there for all of us to see. It is a victory for all time and it has never happened in this state before, but we thank God for this victory.
“We thank God for the judgment of the tribunal. And I want to thank my brother, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), not just a brother but also my learned brother.
“He is somebody I respect a lot and he knows that; I see him as a friend. I want to call on him and implore him, let us join hands together, there is no need for litigation. I don’t see anything in it.
“Let us come together, let us all join hands to build this state together. There is room for many and more, and I believe that we can join hands together and work together to build the state. He loves the state and I don’t have doubt about it as a gentle man par excellence.
“I don’t see this as any victory: no victor, no vanquished, it is just for us as contestants. Just like a game: you win some, you lose some; you can’t win them all. We thank God today that we are victorious.”
Reacting to the judgment, Jegede said he would not rush into doing anything but would act after reviewing the whole process with his counsels.
He said : I will consult my counsels, eminent counsels who are knowledgeable in this business. By the time I add my own knowledge, we shall forge forward.
“We don’t want to rush to do anything. We will look at the judgment. We will request for the copy of the judgment given the fact that we have sixty days within which to conclude and we shall appeal if there is one and the time starts today.
“So it is important that we have access to the judgment just delivered. We need to look at what they have read. It is very critical and that is what we intend to do.
“I commend the judges that they were able to deliver the judgment within 180 days despite the strike”.