BY SEGUN ADEBAYO – Upbeat arrangements for Governor Godwin Obaseki’s second term inauguration on November 12, 2020 are being punctuated by early preparations to defend his victory as the re-elected Chief Executive of Edo State
Notwithstanding the surprised decision of his closest rival and the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu not to contest the victory, the governor still has his hands full as he bids to ward off fireworks from five political parties that are challenging at the Edo Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Confirming that it is not yet uhuru for the re-relected governor, Secretary of the Tribunal sitting in Benin, the Edo State capital, Mr Sunday Martins, told newsmen that the parties and their respective candidates, are contesting INEC’s declaration of Obaseki as the rightful winner of the September 19, 2020 poll.
According to Martins, the 21-day window period for submitting petitions ended on Saturday, October 19, 2020.
He however disclosed that the bailiff has been unable to personally serve Obaseki the court notice, adding that the governor “must be served personally because it is an originating process”.
Among the political parties and their candidates with petitions at the Tribunal are: Action Peoples Party (APP); Action Alliance (AA), Mr Ukonga Frank; and Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM).
Others include: the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Mr Agol Ebun; and the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Iboi Emmanuel.
The Tribunal Secretary explained that all the petitions joined Obaseki, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as respondents.
But the petition by ADP and its candidate had Governor Obaseki, PDP, INEC; as well as Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as defendants.
In their petitions, candidates of APP and AA are specifically challenging their unlawful exclusion from the ballot papers by INEC; after having been validly nominated by their parties, in line with the Electoral Act as amended.
They are therefore praying the Tribunal to nullify the election and order a fresh poll to be conducted within 90 days.
Additionally, both parties are demanding that their validly nominated candidates should be included in the new ballot papers by the Electoral umpire.
For the APM and NNPP, they are challenging the validity of Forms EC9 and CF001 reportedly submitted by Governor Obaseki in respect of the 2020 and 2016 governorship polls in the state.
Similarly, the ADP and its flagbearer Emmanuel are asking the Tribunal to look at the list of Vice Chancellors (VC) of the University of Ibadan (UI); from 1947 to date, an e-newspaper publication that announced the death of Professor Tekena Tamuno, among other documents.
Emmanuel alleged in his petition that Prof Tamuno, who was the VC of UI from December 1975 to November 1979; could not have signed the certificate Obaseki allegedly presented to the APC for screening.
He also alleged that the purported university degree, which Governor Obaseki claimed was issued by University of Ibadan has no specific date on it.
Arguing that Governor Obaseki was ab initio not qualified to run for the gubernatorial election, the ADP candidate said votes credited to him were therefore null and void and of no effect and value in the exercise.
Surprisingly, the APC flag-bearer, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, had opted against challenging Obaseki and PDP’s electoral victory at the Tribunal after his party, against all expectations, congratulated the Governor just few hours after the election results were declared by INEC