The legal team of the Social Democratic Party’s governorship candidate in the June 18 poll in Ekiti State, Segun Oni, on Thursday, accused the governor-elect, Biodun Oyebanji, of evading service in the petition it had filed before the Election Petition Tribunal.
Head of the legal team and former Ekiti State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Obafemi Adewale (SAN), also said it had been difficult to serve the deputy governor-elect, Mrs Monisade Afuye, and the Yobe State Governor and former National Caretaker Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Mai Mala Buni, on account of lack of fixed address.
A former Ekiti State AG and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Owoseeni Ajayi, who spoke on Adewale’s behalf, alleged that the antic was geared towards stalling the petition, saying that “consequently, the SDP/Oni team had on July 20, 2022, filed an application for substituted service for speedy service.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission had announced and returned Oyebanji of the APC winner of the governorship election and issued him Certificate of Return following which Oni on July 7 filed a petition before the tribunal, seeking “declaration as the validly elected governor having scored majority of the valid votes in the election.”
The former AG said, “We filed our petition on July 7 within the time stipulated by the Electoral Act. We have been having problem with service.
“We are having issue of service with the governor-elect, deputy governor-elect and the former APC National Caretaker Committee chairman. There has been deliberate avoidance of service by them.”
Adewale, who said that the essence of the petition targeted at reclaiming their principal’s mandate was to redress the injustice and restore sanity to the electoral process, said, “Ekiti election was characterised by so many electoral malpractices to the extent that it was the point of reference for electoral fraud, which should be avoided in the Osun election.
“That means something definitely happened in the (Ekiti) election which made Oni, who ought to have been declared winner because he scored the highest valid votes in the election announced to be second.”
Speaking on Oni’s prayer at the tribunal, Adewale said, “If we are able to convince the tribunal that there were widespread manipulations that offended the Electoral Act, we are confident that there won’t be any reason to order a fresh election, there will be declaration of the petitioner as the validly elected candidate.”