Osun State: Oyetola Floors Governor Adeleke at Election Tribunal

Osun State: Oyetola Floors Governor Adeleke at Election Tribunal

…Tribunal Orders INEC to Withdraw Certificate of Return Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Osogbo has sacked Governor Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke as the duly elected governor of the state. The tribunal in a split judgement of two to one directed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to withdraw the Certificate of Return

…Tribunal Orders INEC to Withdraw Certificate of Return

Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Osogbo has sacked Governor Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke as the duly elected governor of the state.

The tribunal in a split judgement of two to one directed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Adeleke and issue same to former Governor Adegboyega Oyetola. But this may not necessarily happen until the matter has formally come to an end in the appellate Courts.

Delivering the majority judgement, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Tertsea Kume said the election was marred by over-voting. The tribunal further held that the Independent National Electoral Commission did not comply with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as the Electoral Act as amended in declaring Senator Adeleke as winner of the election.

He subsequently deducted the over-voting observed from the votes scored by the candidates and declared that Oyetola won the election, having polled 314,921, while Adeleke’s score came down to 290,266.

The grounds for the judgement according to the petition are three. But one of the issues was resolved in favour of Governor Adeleke, while resolving the other two in favour of former Governor Oyetola.

The first is that Adeleke was not qualified to contest based on his academic qualifications. But the Tribunal ruled that he was qualified to contest the election. Others are that Adeleke was not elected by majority of the electorates and that the election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission was not in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.

The judgement ruled that based on the BVAS accreditation before the Tribunal, the election was characterized by over-voting in about 700 polling units because the announced results did not tally with the BVAS accreditation figures obtained from INEC server. The Tribunal therefore deducted votes accordingly to tally the votes with the accreditation done with BVAS and contained in the report and came up with a verdict of over-voting.

The Judge proceeded to deduct the figures as presented by the Petitioner and arrived at a new result. He directed that the Certificate of Return issued to Governor Ademola Adeleke be withdrawn and same be re-issued to former Governor Gboyega Oyetola whom he declared won the election.

Synopsis of the Matter

Shortly after the July 16, 2022 governorship election. The APC and then Governor Oyetola applied for the BVAS report and Form EC8AS to file their petition against the victory of Ademola Adeleke. APC ostensibly, found discrepancies between BVAS report and FORM EC8As in over 700 polling units, most of them strongholds of Ademola Adeleke. The votes recorded on Form EC8As did not tally with what BVAS accredited, thereby literarily, translating to over-voting.

But as soon as the INEC, PDP, and the winner Governor Adeleke were served with the APC Petition, they all filed their responses and added/pleaded a different BVAS report, which INEC described as syncronised BVAS report. The report sharply differs from the first one issued by INEC but tallies more with the results announced.

Technically, there were two BVAS reports before the Tribunal. The one issued to APC before they filed their petition and the one issued to PDP tagged Synchronised BVAS report given by INEC during the pendency of the petition.

At the Tribunal, each party strove hard to prove which BVAS was credible and which was not. The Tribunal then had to decide that and had invariably decided that the APC obtained CTC of BVAS was the authentic used for the judgment.

While two members of the three-man panel of judges gave it to Oyetola one of them dissented and gave a minority judgement in favour of Governor Ademola Adeleke.

The Tribunal judgement is like a replay of what happened in 2018 when in a split decision of two to one, the tribunal ruled in favour of Ademola Adeleke of the PDP. But the judgement was overturned both at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court on technical ground that the Judge who read the lead judgement was not present at the Tribunal when an evidence on which the judgement was premised was presented in Court and admitted.

The judgement has been greeted by wild jubilation in the State from supporters of former Governor Gboyega Oyetola and the APC. It is regarded as a moral booster as they go into the 2023 general elections. Members of the PDP on the other hand are not happy but optimistic they will upturn the judgement at the higher courts. They are also more determined that they will show that they are more popular with Osun State people by winning in all the subsequent elections starting with the presidential and National Assembly elections.

In a swift reaction the Executive Governor of Osun State, described the judgement of the tribunal as ” a miscarriage of justice”, vowing to challenge the ruling at the Court of Appeal.

Reacting to the verdict of the Tribunal from his country home, Ede, Governor Adeleke faulted the resolution of the over-voting question in favour of Mr Oyetola, calling it ” an unfair interpretation against the will of majority of voters”

While urging his supporters to remain calm, Governor Adeleke vowed to proceed with the matter to the Court of Appeal, insisting he remained the rightful winner of the July 16 election.

In a statement signed by his spokesperson, Mallam Olawale Rasheed Governor Adeleke called on the people to remain calm. “We will appeal the judgement and we are sure justice will be done. Let our people be reassured that we will do everything possible to retain this widely acclaimed mandate”, Governor Adeleke declared.

Meanwhile the Osun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has described governorship tribunal judgement that upturned the election of Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in favour of Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola as the triumph of justice and truth over falsehood.

According to the statement from the Acting State Chairman of the APC, Sooko Tajudeen Lawal, in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, the governorship tribunal that gave victory to Oyetola is an indisputable indication that the APC is the dominant political party in the state.

Lawal stated that he never, for once, doubted the victory of Oyetola at the tribunal as thel verdict was a confirmation that the APC governorship candidate did not lose the July 16, 2022 election but the vote-count.

The state APC acting chairman observed that the difference in the garnered votes with which Oyetola was declared the winner of the governorship election by the tribunal with a wide margin was enough to prove that the APC candidate won the election conveniently and convincingly.

Lawal stated that with the majority judgement that gave Oyetola victory, it further underscored the fact that the court of law is the last hope of common man as justice was not only served, it was seen to have been glaringly done.

He appreciated the professional expertise of all the lawyers who featured at the tribunal and also lauded the support and loyalty of all the APC members throughout the duration of the suit at the tribunal.

Lawal enjoined all the APC members and their supporters to go about their businesses in peace irrespective of provocation from any quarters. He saluted the courage of the party members for their continued belief in the ideals of the party which have been igniting their unalloyed support to date.

Lawal advised the leadership of the PDP and their candidate to approach the court for an appeal if they feel dissatisfied with the tribunal judgement that has given victory to Oyetola instead of resorting to self-help which is always counterproductive to the rule of law.

He also expressed gratitude to the entire people of the state for their support and prayers throughout the duration of the matter at the tribunal, promising them that the continuity of qualitative governance by Oyetola that they were used to would soon become their portion in the state.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun

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