Olusegun Mimiko, a doctor and Labour Party (LP) candidate won the April 14, 2007 governorship election in Ondo State, the Election Petitions Tribunal ruled yesterday.
With the verdict, the purported victory of Governor Segun Agagu has been cancelled.
Delivering the one hour, 15 minutes judgment, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Garba Nabaruma, declared Mimiko winner with 198,269 votes as against Dr Agagu’s 128, 669 votes.
Justice Nabaruma cancelled the results of the election in Ilaje and Irele. The tribunal also cancelled the election results in Ese-Odo Local Government, except in Apoi ward 1.
Justice Nabaruma also cancelled the results in some wards in Akure North, Odigbo,Ose, AkokoNorth West and Akoko North East
The five-man tribunal, in its unanimous judgment, held that the election was marred by irregularities in violation of Electoral Act 2006, and so nullified it.
The tribunal held that the election was not properly conducted in three local government areas of the South Senatorial District and some units in four other local governments.
Justice Nabaruma said: "All the respondents are contesting the ground one of the petition, that it is incompetent and should be struck out, but the petitioner’s counsel said that the objection should be disregarded as the ground is very germane to the case. We hold that the issue of ground one is very relevant because this is where the petition is anchored on.
"We also hold that there is nowhere in the Electoral Law that says that all the section 45 sub-section 1of the Act should be quoted verbatim".
The tribunal Chairman therefore said that the petitioner (Mimiko) has proved his case beyond reasonable doubt that Agagu was not duly elected.
Nabaruma declared Mimiko duly elected as governor, saying he was elected through majority votes of 198, 269 against Agagu’s 128,669 votes.
Reacting to the judgment, Governor Agagu said he accepted the verdict of the tribunal but was going to seek redress at the Appeal Court.
According to him, the party would study the tribunal’s judgment before proceeding to the Appeal Court.
His words: "It is pertinent to speak a few words to you. As you might have heard, the tribunal has declared the Labour Party candidate as the winner of the election. We are glad it is all over, but we believe in the judicial system. We have taken decision that we shall go on appeal, we have 21 days by law to do this, the battle is still on, we will appeal".
Justice Nabaruma admitted that the election results particularly in four Local Government areas of Ese-Odo, Irele, Ilaje and Okitipupa were manipulated and therefore cancelled.
Also, results of Ayede/Ogbese Ward 02, Ayetoro Ward 03, Iluabo/Eleyowo Ward 06, Moferere Ward 08 and Oke-Iju Ward 12 (5 Wards), in Akure North local government area, Ajowa/Igasi/Eriti/Gedegede Ward 05 of Akoko North West local government area, Edo 01, Ekan 02, Ikado I ward 03, Ilepa I ward 05, Ilepa II ward 06, Oorun III, Oorun II ward 12 and Oyinmo 13 (8 wards) in Akoko North East local government were cancelled.
Others are those of Oke-Igbo I ward 07, Oke-Igbo II ward 08, Oke-Igbo III ward 09 and Oke-Igbo IV ward 10 (4 wards) in Ile-Oluji/Oke-Igbo local government area, Ago Alaye 02, Araromi Obu 04, Ayesan 05, Koseru 07 and Oniparaga 09 (5 wards) in Odigbo local government area, and Afo ward 01 in Ose local government which were are also nullified.
Summary of the judgment also showed that in Akoko South East: Labour Party (LP) polled 3,253, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), 2,266, Akure South: LP 34,239, PDP 22,932, Akure North: LP 5,299, PDP 1,889, Ile-Olu/Oke-Igbo: LP 9,761, PDP 6,000, Odigbo: LP, 27,700, PDP 8,000, Ose: LP 9,175, PDP 12,348, Ese-Odo 91, PDP 2,966, Ilaje: No vote, Irele: No vote, Okitipupa: LP 3,734, PDP 20,903, Ifedore: Cancelled, Ondo East LP 9,417, PDP 5, 222, Ondo West: LP 43, 884, PDP 7,926, Owo: LP, 21, 760, PDP 6,135.
Justice Nabaruma, after summing up the votes, declared Mimiko duly elected.
According to him, Mimiko was elected with majority lawful votes of the people and has proved his case beyond reasonable doubt that he won the election.
The names of Mimiko’s counsel are Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Yusuf Olaolu Ali Esq., SAN, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu Esq., SAN, Tayo Oyetibo Esq., SAN, Femi Falana Esq., Dr. Olumide Ayeni, Yinka Adeyosoye Esq., Aderemi Olatubora Esq., Tunde Atere Esq., Opeyemi Fadoju Esq, Yesiru Oladele Esq.
The Coordinator of the Sunshine Mandate Initiative (SMI), Mr. Tunde Imolehin, in his reaction, described Ondo State Tribunal as the best in terms of decency, focus and impartiality, stressing that Justice Nabaruma had recorded his name in gold particularly on the manner he handled the cases in Anambra and Ondo States.
He said the judgment in Ondo has given momentary relief and confidence after the misplaced judgment of Justice Thomas Naron-led tribunal in Osun State .
Reacting on Friday at a news conference in Akure few hours after he was declared winner, Mimiko said his victory has vindicated him that Governor Olusegun Agagu is a custodian of a stolen mandate.
He noted that the level of impunity and brigandage that was allegedly perpetrated by Agagu’s agents shook the faith of the people of Ondo State in the electoral process and made them to almost lose hope.
The medical doctor-turned politician said he was excited by the verdict of the five-man jury led by Justice Garba Nabaruma giving God the glory for crowning his titanic legal battle against the alleged theft of his mandate with a well-deserved victory.
The man-of-the-moment was full of life as he exchanged banters with top party chiefs, campaign officials and journalists. He also acknowledged cheers from party supporters.
His words: "I must confess that I am happy and excited for many reasons. One, because from the beginning, I had no doubt in my mind of winning because we hearkened to the call of our people in this state to really come out and contest.
"Before I decided to run, the enormity of the type of representation I had from all over the state on this case was incredible. I hearkened to this call believing very well that I have something to offer and that people are expecting change in this state.
"What happened after the election with the level of brigandage was mind-boggling and it shook the faith of many people. As a matter of fact, it shook the faith of many people in this state.
"They almost resorted to self-help but I told them in clear terms that God was in charge and He was going to vindicate us. I am very happy and excited that that we have been able to come this far ins spite of all provocations, physical and psychological trauma and assault.
"We have been able to avoid resorting to self-help to get to where we are today and the whole town was awash with stories about efforts to improperly influence the tribunal. Again, this gives hope that all is not lost.
"We left no stone unturned to prosecute our case in terms of documentary evidence, oral evidence and technical experts’ evidence. You all know that we brought forensic experts, we did physical counting of ballot papers and we brought multimedia specialist to look at the voters’ register.
"You can make all the effort but it is left to God to cap your efforts. I am very happy and excited and you are living witnesses to the facts that in every city in Ondo State, people are just rejoicing and happy and that is very critical, that is very crucial".
The Publicity Secretary of PDP, Chief Yemi Adedipe faulted the judgment stressing that the party would appeal. He urged the party’s members to maintain peace adding that they will eventually win at the Appeal Court.
Also, Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti described the judgment as the best thing to happen in the state. He praised the tribunal members that handled election petitions in the State.
The Yoruba Leader praised their courage and determination to right all wrongs perpetrated during last year’s controversial election.
The Coordinator of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in Ondo state, Mr. Ajija Perewi said the declaration of Mimiko as winner of the disported poll was a victory for the judiciary, rule of law and justice in the country.
He recalled that the election was in favour of do-or-die politicians but the judiciary which is the last hope of the helpless has passed the verdict that truly Mimiko won the election of April 14, 2007.