The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Ado Ekiti has nullified the election of Dayo Adeyeye, the Ekiti South senatorial district senator.
The tribunal subsequently declared former Minority Leader and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Biodun Olujimi, winner of the senatorial poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Mr Adeyeye winner of the February 23, 2019, Senatorial election, but Mrs Olujimi challenged the result at the tribunal.
She submitted that she scored the highest number of lawful votes cast during the keenly contested poll.
Mrs Olujimi prayed the tribunal to nullify Mr Adeyeye’s victory and order a supplementary election accordingly in the district.
In her written address, the petitioner claimed that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Acts, having been allegedly fraught with all manners of irregularities.
She prayed the Tribunal to annul votes in areas that were found to be incredibly marked with irregularities.
The petitioner also accused the INEC of dereliction of duties. She also said the documents used for the conduct of the election were not duly signed by party agents .
But the respondents countered the submission, saying INEC did what was right and constitutional, by declaring the candidate of the APC the winner.
Delivering the judgement, the three-member tribunal led by D.D. Adeck, nullified elections in some polling units and declared Mrs Olujimi the authentic winner of the polls.
At the final computation, Mrs Olujimi polled 54,894 votes to emerge victorious over the Senate committee chairman on media and publicity, who polled 52,243.
Mr Adeck added that apart from the nullification in some units, the outcome of the tribunal’s verdict was predicated on the recount of the ballots by the contending parties as granted by the court.
He also said for the petitioner to be so declared, she must prove those cases of criminal allegations of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and other corrupt practices raised in her petition beyond a reasonable doubt, “which he said she did”.
The tribunal said in Ikere, Gbonyin and Emure local governments, the petitioner was able to prove cases of over-voting “and that votes in those units were expunged from the ballots”.
“It is not tenable to say that marked ballots were not properly deposited in the boxes because when this did not happen, then it will lead to over-voting and will affect counting at every level of collation,” Mr Adeck said.
“To avoid this pitfall, those elections must be expunged in order not to vitiate the electoral process. Therefore, after those votes were deducted, PDP was left with 54, 894 while the respondent polled 52, 243.
“The petitioner having polled the highest number of lawful votes should be declared the winner of the election.
“We hereby declare the petitioner the winner and he is hereby returned elected.
“We hereby direct the INEC to withdraw the certificate of return from the respondent and issue same to the petitioner.”
Despite Tuesday’s judgement, Mr Adeyeye is expected to continue in office till the Supreme Court rules if the matter is appealed.
By PREMIUM TIMES