From TONY OSAUZO, Benin
The Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal yesterday upheld the election of Governor Adams Oshiomhole in the July 14, 2012 governorship election in the state. In a unanimous judgment read by the tribunal Chairman, Justice Muazu Pindiga, the tribunal dismissed General Charles Airhiavbere’s petition challenging the election of the governor and awarded N150. 000 as fine against him.
In the judgment that lasted for about one hour 35 minutes, the tribunal affirmed Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s declaration of Governor Oshiomhole as winner of the election. “We hold that the 1st respondent won the majority votes of 447, 478 as against petitioner’s 144,235 votes. There was no infraction of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended to warrant the voiding of the election of Adams Oshiomhole,” the tribunal further held. Observing that the petitioner, Gen. Airhiavbere (retd) did not win any local government, even his unit in the election, the tribunal stated that if there was any election petition starved of evidence, it was the instant petition.
“If there is any petition that is starved of evidence, it is this one. This petition is bereft of evidence and goes to no substance,” the tribunal said and held that the petitioner failed to prove the allegations of corrupt practices, non-compliance with the Electoral Act, illegal amendment and manipulation of voters register, intimidation and harassment of voters and multiple voting and thumb-printing. Following the Supreme Court ruling of January 7, 2013, which held that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain the issue of Governor Oshiomhole’s qualification to contest the election, the tribunal expunged some exhibits earlier admitted as inadmissible. Reacting to the judgment, Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole said he won and that the court in his judgment declared the petition as an exercise in futility.
He said the petitioner who knew that he lost the election, which was adjudged the freest in the country, approached the tribunal with the belief that he could manipulate the court. Oshiomhole, who added that with the judgment, the petitioner had been made to swallow a bitter pill, noted that when the people and the law have spoken, there is nothing one can do. While positing that Nigerians were unanimous that the July 14, 2012 governorship election was the best and freest in the country, he however noted that no matter the perception of any individual against the collective decision of the people there is no way black could be turned to white. He added that the petitioner had embarked on an empty voyage to waste the time of the court, as well as the government and people of the state who have the interest and development of the state at heart.
… Holds victory rally, hails judiciary
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State held a victory march round Benin yesterday, shortly after the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Benin affirmed his victory at the July 14, 2012 governorship election and hailed the judiciary for standing on the side of the truth. Joined by a large crowd of supporters, the march took off from the High Court premises on Sapele Road, to the Oba Ovoramwen Square, down to Mission Road, down to the New Benin Market, up to New Lagos Road, to Lawani Street, to Ibviame Street to Wire Road down to Oba Market and climaxed at the Oba Ovoramwen Square.
The victory lasted several hours and covered about 8.6 kilometres. The governor, who was cheered by road users, traders and others during the victory march danced to melodious tunes. Addressing the crowd, Oshiomhole said: “This afternoon, I ask you to join me to thank God Almighty for upholding the victory of Edo people because, unless God gives you victory no man can give you victory. “We as ordinary people cannot understand or appreciate how the lions of yesterday have reduced to the mushroom of today. How the underdogs of yesterday have become the victors of today.
How those who boast of money and influence have been humbled by the infinite powers of God, using Edo people to speak loud and clear. “I want to thank all of you across the 192 wards that voted on the July 14 and resoundingly reposed confidence, not only in me as the governor, but also in my party, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the values that we stand for,” he noted. Oshiomhole narrated that all his life, he had been oppressed, victimised and prosecuted and the Nigerian judiciary had always stood by him. “When I was a union leader in the textile industry, they arrested me.
They used the court, but they failed. As the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over a period of eight years. They moved me from one magistrate to another on false charges, the court set me free. In 2006 and 2007, they stole the votes and the courts retrieved the votes. Now on July 14, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost in all wards in Edo South, they lost in all wards in Edo North and Central, we won in all the local governments in the state,” the governor added. Governor Oshiomhole noted that: “Today, most Nigerians believe that nothing is impossible.
I want to say to you that Nigeria remains a great country. We have our challenges, we have our weaknesses, we also have hope that our today would be better than our yesterday. “The judiciary has again spoken that Edo people in their free will voted overwhelmingly for me and ACN and today I believe that mandate is settled. “We want to thank the judiciary for doing justice and for those elegant words so creatively weaved together by those eminent judges that summarily dismissed the petition. “The task ahead is to move on. The purpose of the mandate is clear to me.
Edo people want good governance, Edo people want us to take the state to the next level. Edo people believe that we have done well in the first term. That is why all of them want us to continue. They want to make a statement that Edo State is the Heartbeat of the Nation. “I promise all the great people of Edo State that I will give my all to the state. I want to assure the Benin monarch that we will take Benin Kingdom to the next level. “The task of the ACN in the state is to use the resources available to provide the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people,” the governor stated.