Benin City — The Election Petitions Tribunal in Benin-City yesterday upheld the election of Adams Oshiomhole a the duly elected governor of its state.
In a unanimous decision, the tribunal dismissed the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate, Major-General Charles Airhiavbere, challenging the election of the governor.
It consequently awarded N150.000 as cost against the PDP candidate.
In the judgment which lasted for about one hour 35 minutes and read by the tribunal chairman, Justice Muazu Pindiga, the tribunal affirmed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)'s declaration of Oshiomhole as the winner of the election.According to Pindiga, "We hold that the first 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."
Observing that Airhiavbere did not win any local government, even his unit in the election, the tribunal stated that if there was any election petition lacking in 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 thumbing printing.
Following the Supreme Court ruling of January 7, 2013 which held that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain the issue of Governor Oshiomhole's qualification to contest the election, the tribunal expunged some exhibits earlier admitted as inadmissible.
Soon after the judgment was delivered, the governor and supporters of the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN) thronged the city centre in wild celebration.
Reacting to the judgment, Oshiomhole saidhe won 18/18 and that the court in its judgmentdeclared 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 can manipulate the court.
Oshiomhole who added that with the judgment, the petitioner has been made to swallow a bitter pill, noted that when the people and the law have spoken, there is nothing one can do.
Positing that Nigerians are unanimous that the July 14, 2012 governorship election in the state 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 can 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 had the interest and development of the state at heart.
He also added that in a true democracy it would take time for people to realise that the electorate is the ultimate source of power who willingly give their mandate to those they know that have the political will to deliver to them the dividends of democracy.
According to him, "the people voted freely and I won 75 percent of the votes cast in the election. Even if we offered no defence, even if we said everything they complained about we agree when he led evidence in about 62 units out of over 2, 620 polling units and even if we have dashed him the 62 units, he knows that that wouldn't have made any meaningful change in the case.
"But like I said before the judiciary has always demonstrated the courage, commitment to the rule of law and today they have again demonstrated that and I can only say we give thanks to God.
"I want to remind the petitioner that we are friends and brothers and that in a multi- party democracy more than one person is entitled to contest, and that is the beauty of multi-party democracy. And when more than one person contest an election no matter what happen only one person must win but there is no way where two persons can win at the same time.
"Therefore Edo people spoke loud and clear and that is why the election has to go the way it went. But now that is all over, we ask him to join us as an Edo person so that together we can take the state to the next level," he said.