The Edo State Governorship Election Tribunal yesterday affirmed the election of Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected governor of Edo in the September 28, 2016 governorship elections.
Consequently, it threw out the allegation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu that the election was fraught with irregularities of corrupt practices, over voting, non compliance with the electoral Act and several other allegations.
Justice Ahmed Badamasi in his over two-hour ruling held that the petitioners could not prove their allegations pointing out that “in an election petition, the petitioner can only succeed on the strength of his case and not on the weakness of the respondents.”
Ize-Iyamu had approached the court seeking nullification of the election and that he should be declared winner of the polls on the grounds that there were irregularities and non-compliance with the electoral Act, corruption and over voting. He also prayed that he should be declared the duly elected winner of the poll having stored the highest number of votes cast in the election.
He had challenged 16 of the 18 local government areas where the election held while votes recount as ordered by the court was inconclusively carried out in Akoko-Edo, Egor, Orhionmwon and Ikpoba Okha council areas even as the outcome of the exercise was not tendered as evidence in court.
He further noted that the petitioners did not focus on their pleadings on the considerations of excess votes, registered voters as alleged and they failed to meet section 173 of the Electoral Act, as amended “all the witnesses that testified along that line were a nullity and we hold so.”
On Ize-Iyamu’s identity, the tribunal held that contrary to 1st Respondent Counsel’s argument that he as a person who contested the election was different from the petitioner, his identity was not in doubt, as Edo people were not misled in the election.
“We are of the view that the name Ize-Iyamu Osagie is the same as Pastor Ize-Iyamu Osagie Andrew,” the tribunal held.The tribunal also added that it was the duty of the petitioner to show by credible evidence that he scored the highest number of lawful votes cast before the petitioner can satisfy the requirement of the law.
Justice Badamasi therefore declared: “On the whole, we hold that the petitioners have not proved their case through credible evidence. Accordingly this petition is hereby dismissed. The second respondent is hereby declared as the lawful and duly elected governor of Edo State.”
Reacting to the judgment, the petitioners’ Counsel, Kehinde Eleja (SAN) commended the tribunal and urged that copies of the judgment be made available soonest just as INEC Counsel, Mrs. Doris Owolabi appreciated the tribunal.
Counsel to Obaseki, Olatunji Oyeyipo (SAN) commended the court for avoiding technicalities and dealing with the merit of the case, while Counsel to APC, Victor Oyosumor aligned himself but added that the judgment has confirmed the wishes of Edo people that the election was free and fair.
He called on all parties to use the death of former governor of old Midwest and Bendel state, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia to rally round Governor Obaseki in his quest to develop the state.
In his reaction, Governor Godwin Obaseki said his victory at the tribunal was for Edo people, adding that it would spur him to work harder for the people of the state.
On his part, former Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole who later joined the governor and his deputy Philip Shaibu and thousands of supporters for a dance rally round Benin City described the petition filed by the PDP and Ize-Iyamu as an abuse of the court process.
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