Kamarudeen Ogundele, Success Nwogu and Ade Adesomoju
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mallam Yusuf Ali, said the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in last Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, has asked him to lead his legal team to challenge the victory of Governor-elect, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, at the election tribunal.
Olusola, who lost the election to Fayemi, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, according to the results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, has vowed to challenge the poll outcome.
Fayemi, a former governor of the state, defeated Olusola in 12 out of the 16 local government areas of the state, polling 197,459 votes while Olusola scored 178,121 votes.
Ali told SUNDAY PUNCH on Friday that he had accepted to lead other senior lawyers to reclaim Olusola’s mandate.
The senior advocate however said he would need to discuss details of the brief with his client to know the grounds upon which the candidate was contesting the poll results.
Ali added that he would not be able to give an accurate figure of other lawyers that would join him in the legal battle against the APC candidate.
He said, “I have just been contacted to represent the PDP (at the tribunal). The (legal) team is just being put together; so, I don’t know the number of SANs and other lawyers that will work with me yet because it is the client that will determine who they want to bring on board.
“On the grounds of the petition, I was just briefed (to take up the matter); we would need to engage in further discussions before I will know exactly what is involved.”
Tribunal constituted before election –A’court
Meanwhile, the three-man panel for the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal has been set up to sit on the disputes arising from the July 14 governorship election in the state, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
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The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, is empowered to constitute the election petitions tribunals for governorship as well as for state and National Assembly elections.
The Head, Media and Publicity Unit of the Court of Appeal, Mrs. Sa’adatu Musa, responding to an inquiry by SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, said the tribunal for the Ekiti State governorship election was constituted two weeks before the election held on July 14.
“The Ekiti State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal was set up two weeks before the election,” Musa said in a text message in response to one of our correspondents’ enquiry.
Section 133 (3)(a) of the Electoral Act provides that the tribunal “shall be constituted not later than 14 days before the election.”
The registry of the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal was said to have been opened in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, one week after it was constituted.
By virtue of Section 134(1) of the law, an election petition to challenge the validity of an election must be filed within 21 days after the date of the declaration of results.
“An election petition shall be filed within 21 days after the date of the declaration of results of the elections,” the law states.
With the result of the election declared one week ago, it implies that aggrieved persons have only two weeks left within which to file their petitions before the tribunal to challenge the outcome of the poll.
Section 134(2) of the Electoral Act provides that “an election tribunal shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of the filing of the petition.”
Olusola had, on Sunday, alleged that he was robbed of victory in an election he claimed to have received over 70 per cent of the votes, having won in almost all the 16 local government areas in the state.
At a press conference after INEC declared Fayemi the winner on Sunday, the PDP candidate, who is the deputy governor of the state, alleged that security agencies threw all caution to the wind by taking sides with the APC and Fayemi.
He accused security agencies of not only supporting but also supervising the indiscriminate arrest of PDP leaders and agents while also harassing voters on a massive scale, especially in Ado Ekiti, Ikere and other places.
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He equally alleged that security agencies gave tacit and active cover for thugs imported into Ekiti by the APC to snatch ballot boxes, create confusion, cause mayhem, and drive away voters in PDP strongholds.
“INEC, on its own part, reneged on its promise to have results counted, declared and pasted on the wall of each polling station. There was nowhere INEC transmitted results from the polling centres as earlier promised.
“Ballot boxes were illegally moved to INEC offices while our agents were disallowed from following the process,” he stated.