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2011: COURT WILL STOP CONDUCT OF GOVERNORSHIP POLL IN EKITI - ONI

By Lere Olayinka

Ekiti State Governor, Engr. Segun Oni has expressed his readiness and that of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to seek an injunction, restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission

(INEC) from conducting the 2011 governorship election in the State, even as he reiterated his confidence in the ability of the PDP to win the election anytime it is conducted.

Governor Oni, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Wale Ojo-Lanre and made available to journalists in Ado-Ekiti, today said the substantive case on the tenure may not be concluded at the Supreme Court before the January, 2011 elections, added that he believed that he has a duty not to create a vacuum or exacerbate the constitution dilemma.

He expressed confidence that himself and the PDP would always win in any free and fair election, saying; “I am very confident that we will always win in any free and fair election. We are confident of the people's confidence in our ability to perform and deliver the true and enduring dividends of democracy.

“Our sustained focus on developing the social and economic infrastructures that had been non-existent in the State will be the testament of our commitment to the people. Our work in Education, Roads, Health, Water, Housing, Security and several other sectors would speak for us. We are satisfied we have served the people of this State diligently to ask for a new mandate. We are also very confident we will get it.

“It is for this reason and our commitment to democracy and respect for rule of law that we are stating clearly that if indeed the Governorship election is to be held in Ekiti State in January 2011 in accordance with existing INEC time-table, I and my Party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), will be fully prepared provided the election is held in full compliance with all the laws and the Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.”

Speaking on his understanding of the Appeal Court judgment, which nullified his election on March 17, 2009, Governor Oni said; “As I understand it, the Appeal Court judgment, the re-run and the new oaths of office and allegiance taken are no mere academic exercises. They are substantive constitutional events either in direct compliance with the constitution as existed then, or in obedience to orders of the court as validly pronounced.

“Nevertheless, there is dispute over the exact implications of those activities as far as tenure is concerned and the emerging realities.

We are strongly of the view that where disputes of this nature as a result of unusual extra-constitutional situations arise, the best arbiter is the Judiciary. We are all aware that there is an ongoing case over the tenure issue and it is now pending before the Appeal Court. We believe whichever way it goes at appeal; the matter would ultimately be resolved at the Supreme Court which has the final say in the interpretation of the Constitution and our laws.

“It is in this regard that we fault INEC's recent pronouncement suggesting that the Governorship election would be held in Ekiti in January 2011. That pronouncement is prejudicial to the process already before the courts and frankly, should not have been made. But we appreciate INEC's dilemma especially as no one can absolutely predict what the ultimate decision from the Supreme Court would be and when the decision would be made as the matter is only at this time before the Appeal Court.”

Disclosing steps he was likely to take on INEC decision to conduct the election; the governor said; “We will be asking the Courts for an injunction against the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered in Jos. It may or may not be granted although we are very optimistic. The substantive case itself may not return from the Supreme Court even before the January elections. I believe I have a duty not to create a vacuum or exacerbate the constitutional dilemma.

“This notwithstanding, we like to emphasize that our victories at the polls in 2007 and in 2009 were no flukes. We worked hard visiting every nook and cranny of Ekiti State, No Town, Village or settlement was left out. We listened and shared with every community their yearnings and aspirations. We engaged the people across the entire social/economic spectrum. No one was considered too small or too big for us to meet and engage. We are very confident that we can do this again when the situation arises.”