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3 die as Alao-Akala wins at tribunal

Posted by By AKEEB ALARAPE and OLUSEYE OJO, Ibadan on 2008/03/23 | Views: 597 |

3 die as Alao-Akala wins at tribunal

The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ibadan on Monday upheld the election of Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala as the validly elected governor of Oyo State in the April 14, 2007 governorship polls in the state. However, no fewer than three people died in the wild jubilations that followed.

The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ibadan on Monday upheld the election of Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala as the validly elected governor of Oyo State in the April 14, 2007 governorship polls in the state. However, no fewer than three people died in the wild jubilations that followed.

But a dissenting judgment, delivered by Justice Wali Bashir, nullified the election based on non-compliance with electoral rules as related to allegation of over-voting, alteration of results, non-signing/stamping of election results and discrepancies in Forms EC8A and EC8B.

Governorship candidate of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Senator Abiola Ajimobi, had petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the declaration of Alao-Akala as the winner of the election, alleging malpractices,
violence and discrepancies in the conduct of the election and also in the result declared by the electoral umpire.

In the majority judgment, delivered by Justice Teni Hassan-Yusuf, supported by Justices P.O. Nnadi and E.O. Ahamioje, the tribunal affirmed the apparent non-compliance with the electoral rules in 309 polling units in Ogbomoso South, Ogbomoso North, Surulere and Ogo-Oluwa local government areas and went ahead to deduct the invalid votes from the results declared by the INEC for both Akala and Ajimobi.

After the mathematical calculations, she revealed that a total number of 93, 173 votes was inflated in favour of PDP while 602 was in favour of ANPP. She proceeded to deduct the inflated figures from the result presented by INEC. Based on this, Akala who had polled a total of 357,927 votes dropped to 264,799 while Senator Ajimobi was left with 238,587 votes against the INEC’s declared 239,189 votes.

Upon the summation of the remaining number of votes, the tribunal declared Akala as the authentic winner of the election with 264, 799 as against Ajimobi’s 238, 587 votes. The tribunal went ahead to explain that the fact that the election did not comply with the electoral rules in four of the 33 local government areas in the state did not invalidate the outcome of the election.
But in his own ruling, Justice Bashir maintained that he could not align himself with the majority decision because the total number of inflated votes, which he put at 97, 114 votes, as well as the total number of eligible voters that were disenfranchised were enough ground to nullify the entire election in the four local government areas.

He explained that against the allegation of the petitioner that the whole election in four local government areas of Ogbomoso zone of the state did not comply with the 2006 Electoral Act, Bashir held that Alao-Akala was able to prove his case that there was substantial compliance but failed to explain the cause of over-voting, alteration, non-accreditation of voters and non-stamping/signing of results.

Bashir, therefore, cancelled the entire results in the four disputed local government areas, using the case of Ogun State in the 2003 election results between Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Alhaji Muhammed Buhari as reference point. Citing the volumes of votes nullified and the need to be fair to the electorate who have been disenfranchised by the nullification of the result, Bashir nullified the return of Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala by INEC as the winner of the election and ordered that fresh election be conducted in the affected local government areas.

Earlier, the tribunal chairman, Justice Teni Hassan-Yusuff, had dismissed the indictment of Alao-Akala for misappropriation of public funds, saying only a competent court of law could indict a person of the caliber of a serving deputy governor for financial misconduct.
On the allegation of violence made by the petitioner, the tribunal judgments also differred. While the majority held that counsel to the petitioner failed to link Akala directly with the alleged violence, stuffing of ballots, snatching of ballot boxes, rigging and acts of thuggery, the minority judgment called for severe punishment against those who were fond of using violence to win election so as to nip the act of thuggery in the bud.

Reacting to the judgment, counsel to Ajimobi, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) pointed out that the judgment created more confusion than solution, saying that his client would seek redress in the appellate court.
“As you can see the judgment has created much confusion than finding solution to the impasse. The judgment, as delivered, was not supportable by the evidence before the tribunal.
“The tribunal never made reference to exhibit 44 where the police tendered report that there was violence in Ogbomoso. Throughout the judgment nobody made reference to the evidence of the police.
“The majority judgment has given the report that there was over-voting in Ogbomoso; that there was substantial non-compliance. All these were recorded by the tribunal and majority of votes from Ogbomoso were nullified. The entire result from Ogbomoso ought to have been cancelled. Ninety-seven thousand (97, 000) out of all the over 137,000 of all the votes in Ogbomoso were cancelled. All the parties should have gone back for fresh election.

“In any case, we are very happy that we were able to prove one thing; that there was massive rigging in Ogbomoso.”
On his own, counsel to Akala, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) said that the majority ruling confirmed that his client was the validly elected governor of Oyo State.
On the dissenting judgment, Fagbemi maintained that Justice Bashir aligned himself with the majority, saying he only dissented on the issue of what order that should be made.
“Nobody can stop anybody from going on appeal. They contested election against Akala, nobody stopped them and they failed. They took the other step by going to the tribunal, that they wanted to nullify the election, again they failed. If they say they want to go to Court of Appeal, we cannot hold them back, they should do so, so that they can acquire the status of a consistent loser.
“The four-members of the tribunal agreed on four other issues, except on what order they should make. The question is that should they nullify the entire election where you have about 4,000 polling units?”, he stated.

An euphoric Governor Alao-Akala in a state-wide broadcast described his victory as that of the people of the state and for democracy.
“As the Executive Governor of Oyo State, I hold no grudge against anyone; as a principal stakeholder in the affairs of Oyo State, I admonish the opposition to join me in the urgent challenge to develop our state; and I extend my hand of fellowship to all and sundry and express my unalloyed love to you all.
“I implore you all to go about your normal duties and shun any type of violent celebration or recrimination,” he said in the broadcast.

Meanwhile, the development assumed a tragic turn as bodies of three unidentified young men, suspected to be supporters of the Oyo State Governor, were recovered from the carnage of a Hilux Toyota Pick Up vehicle which was involved in a lone accident right in front of the Oyo State High Court.
The accident victims were believed to be jubilating on the victory of Akala at the tribunal sitting as they were riding in a vehicle belonging to the Oyo State Planning Commission when the accident occurred, short distance from the junction leading to the High Court premises.
Also, suspected supporters of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday descended on billboards erected by the defeated candidate of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) in the April 2007 governorship election, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.

Eye-witnesses told Daily Sun that the thugs pulled down Ajimobi’s billboard at Sumal Foods Junction along M.K.O Abiola Way, Ring Road while they also disfigured others within the vicinity.
But reacting to the destructive act, Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Communication, Prince Dotun Oyelade, absolved his boss from it, saying Akala never subscribed to violence.
“Akala has demonstrated himself as a man of peace. In his address, he said ‘no victor, no vanquished’. He is not somebody that will use violent means to achieve a democratic end. He has said that so many times. If something like that happened, we condemn it because Ajimobi and Akala are not men of violence. In fact, they are friends,” Oyelade stated.

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