Friday 27 January 2023

Osun Tribunal Sacks Adeleke - Orders Issuance of Certificate of Return to Oyetola . As Oyetola described judgement as well deserved


Osun State Election Petition Tribunal has sacked Senator Ademola Adeleke as the Governor of Osun State.

It declared Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the validly elected Governor of the state, having scored majority of lawful votes in the July 16, 2022 governorship election. 

In its lead judgement, read by the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Tertsea Kume, it said the petitioners have proven the allegations of over-voting beyond reasonable doubt and it was the duty of the court to deduct the invalid votes from the lawful votes cast at the election. 

After deducting the unlawful votes, the tribunal declared that Oyetola of the APC scored 314,931 votes, while Adeleke scored 290,266 votes. 

The panel directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Adeleke and subsequently issue another certificate of return to Oyetola as the validly elected Governor of the state.

The chairman said, the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) report issued to the Petitioners clearly showed that there was over-voting in the result declared by the INEC.

According to the panel, none of the witnesses of the respondents disputed the evidence of the petitioners as regards over voting on the BVAs report, just as the INEC did not withdraw the BVAS report issued to the Petitioners.

The panel further ruled that the arguments of the respondents that the BVAS reports issued to the petitioners was "unsynchronized and inchoate" was misconceived, as such claims were not shown on the report. 

On the respondents' argument that the Petitioners did not call any oral evidence to prove the alleged over voting, the tribunal held that fact admitted needed no proof, as the respondents' witnesses have admitted over-voting in the result declared by the commission based on the purported syncronished BVAS report issued to the respondents.

He held that the evidence before the panel was that the election was held in substantial non-compliance with the provision of the law, through manipulation of BVAS. 

According to him, the petitioners does not need to tender the voters register to prove accreditation, saying what Section 51(2) of the Electoral Act provide is that, for the purpose of accreditation only the BVAS machine would be used.

The Tribunal further noted that the electoral act provides that where there is over voting, the result for the said unit should be cancelled, adding that"it is the duty of the tribunal to deduct invalid votes from lawful votes".

The chairman then recommended that to forestall manipulation of BVAS machine in the conduct of subsequent elections, the INEC server should be linked to the Nigeria Police server and linked with National Security Adviser for transparency, saying any of the report emanating from these sources can be subjected to investigation.

The tribunal averred that despite the declaration of the INEC to conduct a free and fair election, the conduct of its officer has contradicted the claim. 

In its decision on the qualification of Adeleke to contest the election over forgery of certificate, the panel ruled that though it was established that the Secondary School Certificate of Ede Muslim Grammar School was forged, it was not enough to disqualify him, as he had other certificates he presented.

Meanwhile, in a minority judgement, a member of the panel, Justice Benedict Amangbe Ogbuli, said the petitioners could not have proven over-voting by BVAS report alone, saying, the voters' register is also required to prove over-voting for the affected units and as such should also have been tendered and put into consideration.

He said, the petitioner failed to proved the allegation of over-voting and subsequently dismiss the petition. 

..... Oyetola reacts, says it's victory for Osun

Immediate past Governor and APC candidate in the July 16 Governorship election, Adegboyega Oyetola has described the victory as one that was well deserved.

He also appealed to the members of the PDP not to resort to self-help, but instead allow the judicial process to run its full course.

Addressing journalists shortly after the Tribunal ruling, Oyetola said: "the Tribunal judgement today on our petition ushers in a new dawn of a renewed hope and recovery for Osun State.

"For me, I see it was a no victor and no vanquished situation for our party members, but rather a collective victory for the entire people of Osun State party and Nigeria's democracy.

"I am happy that the Tribunal has been able to lay to rest the controversy over the real winner of the July 16 Osun Governorship election.

"The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), would no doubt be the greatest beneficiary of this ruling, as it would help it correct some of the anomalies that have been pointed out through the ruling, a thing that was our motivation in the first instance.

"Like I have always emphasised , our decision to approach the Tribunal was not to impugn on the integrity of INEC, but to help deepen our electoral system and our democracy. 

"I salute millions of our party faithful and Osun Citizens  who stood firm to weather the storm for their courage and loyalty. 

"With this victory, we have become more energised to redouble our efforts towards ensuring victory for our presidential candidate and all our National Assembly candidates, including all the State House of Assembly candidates in the February and March elections respectively.

"I thank our legal team for a diligent job, just as I also thank the Tribunal for doing justice to our petition. Finally, I call on our party members and supporters across the State not to react to any form of provocation from any quarters. Let's continue to remain calm, peaceful and law abiding."


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