The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the re-election of Rotimi Akeredolu as Governor of Ondo State.
Akeredolu’s victory was affirmed after four of the seven justices of the Supreme Court that heard the case upheld his candidacy in the October 10, 2020 election in the state.
Three other justices disagreed with the majority judgement, insisting that Akeredolu’s candidacy in that election is a nullity.
The minority judgement held the view that the appeal has merit and ought not to be struck out by the appeal court.
Akeredolu was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the October 10, 2020, governorship election in Ondo State.
The PDP and its candidate, Eyitayo Jegede had earlier approached the appeal court to challenge the candidacy of Akeredolu, insisting that his nomination form was signed by a sitting Governor Mai Buni who doubles as the Acting National Chairman of the party.
The appeal was based on the constitutional provision which forbids sitting Governors from holding executive positions outside their statutory position as governors.
They prayed the court to nullify Akeredolu’s candidacy, but the Court of Appeal in Akure, Ondo State capital, on June 16, struck out the appeal for lack of merit.
At the Supreme Court, the outcome was the same for the PDP as the majority judgement backed the decision of the appeal court.
Governor Akeredolu, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, was re-elected on the back of a campaign in which he promised to provide composed and focused leadership marked by economic growth and improved security for people in the state.
He polled 292,830 votes – winning 15 of the 18 local governments – to defeat Jegede who scored 195,791 votes, and Agboola Ajayi of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) who came third in the election with 69,127 votes.
It was the second time the governor would defeat his PDP rival candidate.
Akeredolu, who had Ajayi as his running mate when he first contested for the office, beat Jegede to win his first term as governor in 2016 before the ZLP candidate chose to go against his boss and join the governorship race in 2020.
The poll, the second major election to be conducted since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, was preceded by a dramatic campaign featuring 17 political parties and their candidates before about 11 of them pulled out of the race in favour of other candidates.
MEANWHILE, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says the split judgment by the Supreme Court on the flawed nomination of Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, shows that there is merit in its appeal against his election as governor.
The party notes that the majority judgement as presented by the Supreme Court did not address the impunity in the action of the Yobe Governor, Mai Mala Buni, in functioning as the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while at the same time holding office as a sitting governor, contrary to the provisions of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as well as the constitution of the APC.
The fact that three justices out of the seven-man panel upheld our position on the illegality of Akeredolu’s nomination confirms that his candidacy as cancerous and a brazen violation of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as well as the constitution of the APC.
It is noteworthy that the judgement did not disagree with our position that Mai Mala Buni as Governor of Yobe State cannot function as National Chairman of a political party and nominate a candidate for election to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
While our party restates its utmost respect for the institution of the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, the PDP had expected the Apex Court to stand up as the conscience of our nation by halting the absurdities and impunities being entrench in the political firmament by the APC.
The quest for a legal pronouncement that will guide the sanctity of our electoral system was the reason the PDP had explored our point of grievance legally to the highest court in the land, in the interest of the nation, and not just because of our candidate, Eyitayo Jegede.
The PDP however urges our members in Ondo state and Nigerians at large not to allow the development make them lose hope but to remain calm and law-abiding in the general interest of the nation.
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