By A’isha Biola Raji
An aspirant to House of Representatives for Odigbo/Ile-Oluji/ Okeigbo Federal Constituency of Ondo State, Hon. Festus Adefiranye, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has alleged electoral fraud and connivance against the state Chairman of APC, Mr. Duerimini Isaac Kekemeke, and members of the Party’s Electoral Appeal Panel in the December 7 primaries held in the constituency.
The allegation is contained in a suit, filed on Monday before a Federal High Court, Abuja, by a Constitutional lawyer, and Adefiranye Counsel, Festus Keyamo, seeking to compel the APC to forward the plaintiff’s name to INEC as winner of the primaries.
The plaintiff, who contended that he won the primaries and was openly declared winner, alleged that Kekemeke connived with members of the appeal panel to “fraudulently” forward the name of the first runner up, Yejide Ogundipe, “a well-known mistress of Mr. D.I. Kekemeke and they both co-habit in the same house” to INEC as the candidate of the party for the election.
In the suit in which, Ogundipe, APC and INEC were named as respondents, the plaintiff stated that he emerged as the candidate of the party in the primaries with the highest votes cast of 191, while Ogundipe got 189 votes, Emmanuel Adedeji 100 votes and Pius Akingba 13 votes.
He deposed, in an affidavit in support of the suit, that he was declared the winner by the Returning Officer of the election who also signed and gave a copy of the result duly signed to him.
The result, according to the plaintiff, was signed by the returning officer as well as the Chairman and Secretary of the Primaries Election Committee of the Party. “After my declaration as the winner, I was congratulated by several persons, including the first defendant, Ogundipe, who congratulated me via a text message.
“I was surprised on the 13th day of December, 2014 to receive a text message at about 4.50pm that a petition had been written against me by the first defendant, Barr Yejide Ogundipe, consequent upon which I was required to appear before the Legislative Election Appeal Committee by 6p.m. of the same date.
“I proceeded to appear before the Legislative Election Appeal Committee as directed where it was confirmed to me that the first defendant had written a petition against me, which was read to me and to which I was requested to respond. I requested to have a copy if the said petition as my copy, but I was denied.”
In the petition read to him, the plaintiff said that the first defendant had purportedly written that her agent told her that the counting of the votes were not properly done, that there was need for a recount of the votes.
The plaintiff however, maintained that it was absurd for the electoral officer who did not complain during and immediately after the election to wake up days after the election and be seeking for recount of votes.
He also contended that it was not within the powers of the Electoral Appeal Panel to assume the role of a Chief Returning Officer by counting votes after election had been held and concluded.
He added that the absurdity was legendary, especially when the recounting was to be done seven days after the election had been concluded.
He also urged the court to direct the party to forward his name to INEC as its candidate for the House of Representatives elections of the constituency and a mandatory order compelling INEC to accept and publish his name as the party’s candidate for the election.
The plaintiff sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from accepting and publishing the name of first defendant (Ogundipe) as the APC candidate for the election.
The case is yet to be assigned and no date has been fixed for hearing.