Critical Issues From Ekiti Tribunal

by Peter Claver Oparah

Gradually, the proceedings in the Ekiti tribunal are drawing to an end and with it, the farce that was concocted in April 2009 to cover a more heinous one in April 2007. With it comes the expectation of the people that the bizarre and open fraud that saw the victory of Dr. Kayode Fayemi of the AC swerved in favour of Segun Oni of the PDP would be unhinged and the rightful owner of the mandate assume his post from where h had been kept off for three years now. Ekiti has become a tragic comedy that speaks of the carnivorous business politics has assumed in Nigeria, especially in the past eleven or so years.

In an earlier report after the howling scandal that found easy characterization in the notorious Ido Osi forgery, I did say that what Fayemi needed to reclaim his mandate is to prove to the whole world that the sham result that was spawned in Ido Osi to deny him his mandate was a crooked forgery. Because it happened before the eyes of the entire world, his task was made simpler. The ugly scenario created by the Resident Electoral Commissioner who initially stood down the pressure to have her announce a forged result to pervert victory to the side of the PDP, made Fayemi’s job simpler. Everything happened in the full glare of the camera and before an agitated world that was coming face to face with the brutal carnality of PDP’s devilish quest for power. So to me, and to most Nigerians, Kayode Fayemi had little to prove before he is finally given what he rightly earned as far back as April 2007.

As at date, the hearings have been concluded and the tribunal has fixed April 13 for addresses, which will effectively bring the case to an end. But it ended with a great drama. The Resident Electoral Commissioner, who was persuaded at gunpoint to announce compromised results from Ido Osi, was never brought to testify at the tribunal. When Nigerians remember that this woman, who was practically held hostage and made to shamefully devour her words as she was forced to announce the farcical concoction that made Segun Oni the winner of that make up election, told the distraught victims of her volte face to ‘go to the tribunal’, it was a surprise that she was never at the tribunal to face her victims. That was curious as well as indicting of the beneficiaries of her crooked discretion. Could it be that the PDP were not sure of what may come out of a thorough cross examination of Mrs. Adebayo? Did it occur to them that by their inability to call her to attest to the soiled farce that swung victory to them, they have voluntarily ditched one of the two legs on which their tainted claim to victory stands? Do they so much believe in the disjointed and hardly agreeing accounts they spewed at the tribunal to secure victory for them? Why go to a battle without your general, for that is what leaving out Mrs. Adebayo from the tribunal portends? Do they believe in the illogic and scraps their agents and INEC officials gave at the tribunal to secure the seat they forcefully coveted for them? I believe the members of the tribunal took judicial notice of this critical faux pass, which I believe the Fayemi team will greatly accentuate at the address stage.

We were all witnesses to yet graver and more sordid revelations of brutality, vote manipulation, farcical concoctions and absurd illegalities that were unraveled during the cross examination of both the PDP agents and INEC officials. They are all at the public domain and in the records of the tribunal to bear repeating here. However, let us consider one critical fact that came out of the proceedings of March 4th 2010, the day INEC abruptly closed its case. This may not only deal decisively with the Ekiti governorship case but also many other pending and up coming election disputation cases in the future. During the cross examination of Mrs. Magdaline Osime, the Respondent Witness (RW) 136, who served as the Presiding Officer for Polling Unit 006 in Ifaki Ward 1. This witness claimed to be on the payroll of INEC for 22 years so she should know what she was talking when she is speaking of elections in Nigeria. the counsel to Fayemi, Chief Anthony Adeniyi, asked her the minimum time it took a voter to vote in her unit, she answered that it is between two and three minutes.

Using the minimum time limit of two minutes to measure the actual votes that could be cast in her ward between the starting time of 8.00am and 3.00pm, and assuming that there were no delays or any hitch whatsoever, Adeniyi put it to her and the tribunal that only 210 voters can vote within the given time frame and not the 450 votes she recorded as total votes cast in her ward. If one employs the three minutes she gave, it would have been far fewer votes. In using this parameter, one is being very liberal in assuming that everything went well and voters started voting exactly by 8.00 am and no hitch ever occurred along the line. This is however, a utopia in the Nigerian electoral system and more so the farcical and tragic comedy that took place in Ido Osi on April 25. On this lone ground, the over 18,000 cache of votes that was manufactured in Ido Osi in a last ditch audacious effort to steal Ekiti State to PDP would be easily demolished and proved to be what it really is; an unseemly charade that worked to the question after the answer had been given! I am not going to visit the hordes of other malfeasances that have been thrown up since the case kicked off because they have been well reported.

So we are going to limit ourselves here to seeing how the critical factor of voters time analysis is used in deciding the Ekiti case and this depends on how the lawyers to Fayemi employs the cross examination of Osime on the voter time analysis issue to show that from all practical purposes, the 18,000 votes that were smuggled in from Ido Osi were not possible, from all practical indices. I know that Fayemi has done enough to demolish them as well as those from such other areas as Ijero. If well employed, it will set precedence in Nigeria where whimsical allotment of votes has become the face of electoral fraud in recent times. One believes that the judiciary, especially the Ekiti tribunal and the Osun tribunal will employ this critical factor to frustrate the penchant to pad figures for the purpose of stealing the mandates of the people. If it is not possible, it is possible and the issue should be as simple as that! Every vote record from any polling unit should be able to be put through, and pass a simple voter analysis test before it could be accepted by the tribunal. If many prospective public office holders know these, they would cease being in a haste to churn out fictitious figures as election results.

All things point to the fact that Fayemi’s long wait for what belongs to him will soon be over, if the proceedings from the Ekiti tribunal is to be taken into consideration. But from the tribunal, Nigerians will certainly benefit tremendously if the tribunal tests the potency of voter time analysis as it remains a sure way of freeing the electoral system from the bogus parody of allotment of votes.

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