Again, the Nigerian judiciary was in its full nudity in the trial of the petition by Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the AC governorship candidate in Ekiti State against the declaration of Mr. Segun Oni of the PDP as the winner of the highly dramatic bye election. The present dirty dance of the Nigerian judiciary was expected in a system that is so fluid that result of elections that were targeted at satisfying already determined interests could be cooked and forced down and the judiciary would be trusted to give its stamp to it.
This afternoon, the Ekiti state elections petition tribunal ruled by a split decision of 3 (Tribunal Chairman Justice Hamma Barka, Justice Mohammed Goji, Justice Suleiman Dikko ) to 2 (Justice A.A. Adebara, Justice Obane Ogbunya) to uphold the farcical mess we all cried and protested against in Ekiti exactly one year ago. It is a shame and reifies the need to also carry out a holistic reform of the judiciary if we desire electoral sanity in this country.
The present is why the entire distraught nation, shocked and dazed by the open and bizarre manner the Ekiti re-run election of April 25, 2009 was manipulated to arrive at a pre-determined end, was mocked by Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo to ‘go to the tribunal’. She knows that the Nigerians system (including its judiciary) is programmed to protect electoral thieves to the hilt and the most arduous task was how she could announce such glaringly forged result. She saw the obvious shortfalls and resigned. She was threatened and smoked out from her hole and with a platoon of armed ghouls and soldiers, forced to announce the mangled result and allow the courts to do the rest. It was very bizarre as it was very glaring to all Nigerians.
After a year of dithering by the tribunal and after tons of incontrovertible evidence have been proffered by Fayemi, including severed legs, arms and broken heads, pictorials, unrefuted news reports, over bloated results that were higher than the possible number of voters in the given units, etc, just to add to what every Nigerian knows about the Ekiti bye elections, the judges that made up the tribunal went home to add the pieces and arrive at a pre-determined, untidy return of the incumbent by all means possible. Three of the judges, which constitute a slim majority of the tribunal membership, provided the following strange and jaded reasoning to approve of the farcical election;
· Ayoka Adebayo's resignation not valid and represents a mere assertion of the Petitioners'. It is thus disregarded.
· Ruling says Segun Ajayi who's amputated leg was displayed in open Court didn’t provide enough evidence 2 substantiate his claims.
· Results for ALL Polling Units in Ifaki Ward I in Ido-Osi LGA hereby accepted!!! Oni 3223 Fayemi 2 !!
· Result of Ipoti B in Units 1,3,5,7, cancelled (out of 12 units), but the rest in Ipoti A (total of 8 polling units) and B (8 polling units) upheld. Next is Usi ward.
· "We hold that Petitioners haven’t proven the allegations of substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2006 with regards to 2 Usi Ward We hereby uphold the results of elections with respect to Usi Ward"
· Results in Polling Units 1, 4, 5 & 9 of Orin Ora Ward in Ido-Osi LGA is hereby cancelled.
In like manners, the Ekiti tribunal towed the infamous line of the first tribunal that delved into strange arithmetic to ensure that it delivers Oni, hook, line and sinker. It took the Appeal tribunal’s sense of decency to give a true reflection of what transpired in Ekiti on April 14, 2007, when Fayemi’s victory was suddenly overturned to return Oni. However, the tribunal ordered a re-run election in one-third of the total wards after establishing that Fayemi had an advantage over Oni in two-thirds of the wards where the results were approved.
The April 25, 1999 re-run election stood out for the sheer manner it was mishandled to ensure that Oni returned to the seat he coveted in 2007. When it was obvious that Oni has lost the re-run election, a strange result that clearly departed from the general voting pattern, and which was audaciously manufactured as a question to an already given answer was violently spawned to swing the victory to Oni. Among other things, the results were procured by alleged voting that did not occur at the approved voting centers, were not collated in the approved collation centers, was not signed by other party agents except those of the PDP, among many other shortfalls. The attempt to include these results, procured from Ido Osi, through the most violent means, was stoutly resisted by the mass of the people, the press and the civil society. Knowing the shortfalls of the results, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ekiti, Mrs. Adebayo Ayoka threw in her resignation rather than announce farcical results.
What followed was hair-raising as the PDP, the presidency, INEC and the security pulled every muscle to ensure the results were accepted and used as the basis for declaring the winner of the election and after days of stalemate, Mrs. Adebayo was smoked out from hiding, invited to Aso Rock and handed a choice less fiat to return with a platoon of soldiers to announce Oni as winner of the election. A shocked and awed nation was told by Adebayo to go to court and Fayemi hearkened and here we are!
It is good that Fayemi has vowed to pursue the matter further in the Appeal tribunal and one entertains the hope that once again, the Appeal tribunal will see reason to do justice to a case that has come to personify the macabre and shambolic nature of the country’s electoral system, its heavily compromised judiciary and the entire political process that excels in rewarding roguery and electoral chicanery. Nigerians are watching what transpires at the Appeal tribunal, just because they were living witnesses to what happened in Ekiti last year. They were witnesses to the high drama, the tragedies, the thick intrigues, the cooked scenarios, and the high voltage plots that culminated in the dramatic declaration of Oni as the winner. This case will certainly say a lot not only on the electoral process but the integrity of the Nigerian judiciary, when it is finally settled.
Peter Claver Oparah.
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