FAYEMI'S APPEAL COURT VICTORY
The Court of Appeal verdict which upturned the 2009 Ekiti re-run governorship election victory of Segun Oni of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and declared Dr. Kayode Fayemi of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) the duly elected governor of the state is a victory for democracy. Fayemi had earlier challenged Oni's acclaimed victory in the re-run polls ordered in four councils in the state.
The appellate court ruled that Fayemi led with 105,631 lawful votes against Oni's 95,176. The court also granted all the four reliefs sought by the petitioners.
They include an order allowing for the appeal; an order granting the relief of the Appellant in the petition; an order nullifying the election and the return of the first respondent as the governor and the withdrawal of the Certificate of Return issued to Oni; and, an order declaring the first Appellant as the duly elected Governor of Ekiti State having satisfied the constitutional Act of S.146 (1) of Electoral Act 2006.
In his lead judgement on the matter, Justice Ayo Salami cancelled the results of elections in two of the Local Government Areas (LGAs), Ido/Osi and Ijero, citing fraud and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2006. This judgement was supported by all the other four justices.
It is good that this case, which has dragged for over three years, has finally been settled in favour of the person that actually won the election in 2007.With the outcome of this case, the judiciary has truly demonstrated that it is the last hope of the common man. There is hope now that democracy is gradually returning to the polity after the highly flawed polls of 2007. We salute the justices for their courage in upholding truth and fairness.
That this particular case lasted for more than three years is rather objectionable. Having election cases drag for such a lengthy. time is indirectly an incentive for impunity. Those that perpetuate election fraud such as this do it knowing that it will take long before the matter is resolved. At each occasion, those ousted through the tribunals go away with their booty and other financial benefits they reaped while in office, illegally.
What happens to the salaries and allowances they collected for the years they were illegally in office? They even go with the title of 'His Excellency' or 'Honourable' as the case may be, even though the office was illegally occupied.
Should someone occupy an office illegally and walk away with benefits accrued from it when ousted? Rigging of election is a criminal act recognised by the nation's extant laws. We are not looking for a new law to do this. Let our law adjudicators rise to the challenge. And, from all indications, we may be saddled with similar cases in 2011. If nothing is done now to checkmate the excesses of politicians, there may be a repeat of the 2007 debacle.
In view of this palpable fear, there is the urgent need to look at the Electoral Act in order to give room for all election disputes to be resolved before office holders are sworn in. We are tired of having election petitions that drag on for eternity.
In this political dispensation, all the states that had their gubernatorial mandates overturned are PDP. Why is it that it is only PDP governors that are being removed through the election tribunals? The party has lost gubernatorial seats in Anambra, Edo, Ondo, and Ekiti states.
Considering what happened in Ekiti State when Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo was the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), must she continue again as REC in the current order? In other climes, somebody like Adebayo would have resigned honourably. Her remaining in office after the Ekiti malapropism is a disservice to the electoral body and the nation.
Governor Fayemi should regard this victory as one for all Ekiti people, irrespective of party affiliations. He should not in any way be vindictive. He should get down to work as Ekiti has really suffered since 1999. The state has witnessed the administrations of Niyi Adebayo, Ayo Fayose, the emergency period of Gen. Tunji Olurin, Segun Oni and now Kayode Fayemi, with each having its fair share of turbulence.
This is a very big opportunity for Fayemi to serve the people well and do something great. Let him be guided by his election promises. He should not derail, so as to make a difference in Ekiti. He should deliver democracy dividends to Ekiti people who have undergone a long period of political uncertainty and instability. He should use this period to unite all Ekiti people and make development reach every nook and cranny of the state. We equally enjoin all Ekiti people to close ranks and support the new governor.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must ensure that this type of perfidy does not crop up in the 2011 general elections. It is a debt the agency owes the nation. The INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega, should not disappoint Nigerians.