The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eyitayo Jegede, says Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was not validly nominated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the October 10 election.
Mr Jegede is therefore asking the election petition tribunal to nullify the declaration of Mr Akeredolu by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the October 10 election.
The PDP candidate made the demand in his petition to the state’s Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which will begin sitting in Akure on Tuesday.
He is also urging the three-member tribunal, led by Umar Abubakar, to declare him the winner of the election and return him as the duly elected governor of the state.
Mr Akeredolu polled 292,830 votes (51.1 percent) to beat his closest challenger, Mr Jegede, who polled 195,791 votes (34.2percent). The Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, who ran on the ticket of the Zenith Labour Party, came third with 69,127 votes(12.1 percent).
The total number of accredited voters was 595, 213, which represents 31.6 percent turnout of voters. The total valid votes however stood at 572, 745 as 18448 votes were rejected, while about 16,000 votes were cancelled.
But Mr Jegede said Mr Akeredolu was not validly nominated by the APC for the election.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Onyechi Ikpeazu, is leading Mr Jegede’s team in the petition.
According to the petition, Mr Akeredolu was not validly nominated by the APC, going by the provisions of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution.
He said the section forbids a government official from holding an executive position in a political party.
Section 183 states: “The Governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”
He said contrary to that provision, Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni was the APC chairman at the time the party nominated Mr Akeredolu for the election.
The petitioner went further to argue that Article 17, Section iv of the APC Constitution also provides that an official of a party cannot simultaneously occupy any other executive office in government.
The article states: “No officer in any organ of the party shall hold executive position office in government concurrently.”
The petitioner insisted that the appointment of Mr Buni by the APC ran foul of this provision.
The petition argued that since Mr Akeredolu was not validly nominated, the APC had no candidate in the Ondo election.
Mr Jegede also claimed in his petition that the election was marred by violence in some local government areas and that there was over voting in many polling units.
But the APC has dismissed the petition as a pack of lies and false accusations.
The Director of spokesperson of the party in Ondo, Steve Otaloro, on Sunday, faulted the argument that Mr Akeredolu was not validly nominated on the ground of Mr Buni’s role in the APC.
He described the allegation as a desperate move by the PDP and its candidate to snatch the governorship seat through the back door.
He said Governor Buni was not elected as the national chairman of APC but as the Chairman, Caretaker/Convention Committee of the party.
“Also, the claim that the gubernatorial election was marred with violence in some Local Governments as well as over-voting in other areas was both ridiculous and laughable particularly when the election got a seal of approval by all observers present in election day as being well conducted.
“The whole idea of going to the Tribunal was just to give false hope to their members to remain loyal and committed to a party that is drifting and drowning by the day and almost going to extinction in the state.
“Their members are planning to jump the ship for a more virile and popular political party which they have found in the APC, hence, the need to quickly do damage control by petitioning Governor Akeredolus victory at the Tribunal and which is now receiving more publicity than expected.”
Earlier, while swearing in the judges to hear election petitions in Edo and Ondo states in Abuja, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, had admonished them to be fair and impartial.
“All eyes will be on you and always remember that your conducts will be publicly dissected and thoroughly scrutinized,” said the Chief Justice.
“Do what is right in our Law books and you will have your names etched in gold.”
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