The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on Thursday affirmed the victory of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State at the July 14, 2018 governorship election in the state.
The three-man panel led by Justice Stephen Adah, in a unanimous judgment, dismissed the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate in the election, Prof Olusola Eleka.
Describing the appeal as “unmeritorious,” Justice Adah affirmed the January 28, 2019 judgment of the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which had upheld Fayemi’s victory at the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Fayemi and his party, the All Progressives Congress, polled a total of 197,459 votes to defeat Eleka and the PDP who placed second with 178,121 votes in the July 14, 2018 election.
Fayemi had won in 12 Local Government Areas of the state while Eleka won in four local government areas.
INEC said Fayemi won in Ilejemeje, Irepodun/Ifelodun, Ido/Osi, Oye, Moba, Ijero, Gbonyin, Ekiti West, Ikole, Ise/Orun, Ekiti East and Ekiti Southwest.
Eleka, the electoral umpire said, won in Ado, Ikere, Emure and Efon.
Fayemi had lost the 2014 governorship election to Fayose while seeking a second term.
Dissatisfied with the outcome, the PDP and Eleka had on August 3, 2018 filed their petition before the Ekiti State Election Petitions Tribunal which sat and delivered its judgment in Abuja.
The petitioners alleged among others in their petition that the election was marred by a lot of wrongs including non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
But the tribunal on January 28, 2019 dismissed their petition and affirmed the results declared by INEC.
The petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeal, raising seven issues against the judgment of the tribunal.
But delivering judgment, Justice Adah who gave only a summary of the Court of Appeal’s verdict on Thursday, resolved all the seven issues raised in the appeal against the appellants in favour of the respondents – Fayemi, INEC and the APC.
The court, which had conducted a hearing on the appeal, earlier on Tuesday, dismissed the case in its judgment on Thursday for lacking in merit.
Justices Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson and Emmanuel Agim agreed with the lead judgment delivered by Justice Adah.
The three-man panel entered the courtroom at 7pm on Thursday but started delivering the judgment at 7.14pm.
The summary of the judgment given on Thursday lasted less than 30 minutes.
Alex Akojah, the lawyer who led the petitioners’ team to court on Thursday, told journalists after the judgment was delivered that the legal team would need to be informed by their clients on whether or not they would appeal against the judgment to the Supreme Court.
Eleka, who was the incumbent deputy governor of the state during the election, was hoping to succeed his boss, Ayodele Fayose, who had campaigned vigorously for him.
But the results of the election mark a remarkable rebound for Fayemi, who as the incumbent governor was roundly defeated five years ago by Fayose.
Though the election was generally peaceful across the state, there was large-scale vote-buying by supporters of the APC and the PDP. There were also few cases of ballot box snatching.