Supreme Court to rule on Ondo governorship poll August 29th

By The Rainbow

Axiety has risen to fever level in Ondo Sate as the Supreme Court is set to rule on the state governorship election petition before him.

The seven-man panel of the Apex court led by justice Walter Onoghene, had fixed August 29th to decide on the election petitions filed by Mr Rotimi Akeredolu of the former Action Congress of Nigeria and Olushola Oke of the Peoples' Democratic Party who were candidates in the elections.

The two appellants asked the court to nullify the election of Governor Mimiko and order a fresh election as a result of irregularities and corruption in the compilation of the voters register.

They  accused the Labour Party of conniving with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to inflate the voters register which was used for the election, an allegation INEC denied as its counsel, Mr Oyechi Ikpeazu told the court that INEC did not fraudulently inject names into the voters register but upgraded the register from data gathered after the 2011 election copies of which were made available to all the candidates in both soft and hard copies.

Counsel to Mr Akeredolu of the Action Congress of Nigeria asked the court to substitute the Action Congress of Nigeria with the All Progressive Congress (APC) following the merger of the ACN with two other parties to form the APC.

His application did not go down well with other parties in the suit who challenged the jurisdiction of the court to exchange the name of parties.

According to the lawyers, the substitution if allowed will have implications on the case should the court rule in favour of Mr Akeredolu.

The Apex court agreed with other parties in the case and struck out the Action Congress of Nigeria from the suit since it no longer existed as political party in Nigeria.

Mr.Rotimi Akeredolu prayed the court to order a fresh election on the grounds that the election that brought Governor Mimiko to power was marred by irregularities and corrupt practices contrary to section 138 of the electoral act, while the candidate of the Peoples' Democratic Party, Olushola Oke, also accused INEC of failure to display the register before the election, a position that both the tribunal and the appellate courts agreed to and as such the Apex court should nullify the election of Governor Mimiko.

Responding counsels to both Governor Mimiko and the Labour Party through a cross application urged the court to discountenance the appeal filed by the two parties as it has become an academic exercise.

According to them, since the Action Congress of Nigeria has been struck out of the case on the basis that it is no longer an existing party, the appeal if allowed will suffer the challenge of participation, because it is only parties who participated in the first election that will be allowed to participate in a fresh election if allowed.