On Tuesday, 8th December, 2020, the Ondo Gubernatorial Election Petitions Tribunal will hold its Inaugural sitting in Akure.
Justice Umar Abubakar, leading two other Justices will hear the petition filed by Eyitayo Jegede, SAN against Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN who was declared winner of the October 10, 2020 Election by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Election Tribunals are established pursuant to section 285 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution ( as Amended)and section 133 of the Electoral Act 2011( as Amended) to address disputes arising from Elections.
Eyitayo Jegede, the Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has dragged the All Progressives Congress (APC) Candidate, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN before the Tribunal to answer for perceived infractions on the laws of the land. Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN is leading a team of legal luminaries to prosecute this legal fireworks.
The grounds of the petition include that;
1. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu was not validly nominated by his party APC. By the provisions of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution, a serving Governor of a State( in this case, Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni) can not serve as the National Chairman of APC at the same time to nominate Akeredolu as Candidate of their Party for the Ondo Elections. 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 whatsover”.
In other words, Akeredolu was not validly nominated and as such APC had no candidate for the Ondo Election.
2. Article 17 section iv of the APC Constitution also provides that, any official of the party cannot simultaneously occupy any other executive office in government. It states “No officer in any organ of the party shall hold executive position office in government concurrently”.
Again Buni ran foul of this provision.
3. The Election was marred with violence in some Local Governments as well as over voting in other areas.
These are some of the grounds that Jegede is relying on and asking the Tribunal to declare him as the validly elected Governor of Ondo State.
Earlier, while swearing in Justices of the Election Petitions Tribunals for Edo and Ondo States in Abuja, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad admonished the Judges.
In his words “All eyes will be on you and always remember that your conducts will be publicly dissected and thoroughly scrutinized. Do what is right in our Law books and you will have your names etched in gold”.
Flowing from this admonition and given the character and track record of the Justices in the panel, it is believed that justice will be served at the end of the day.
Peretei is the Ondo state PDP Publicity Secretary.