Sunday 12 March 2023

2023 POLL: Osun NASS Election Petition Tribunal Grants Ex parte To Inspect Election Materials.... By ISAAC OLUSESI


Facts on the monumental fraud and illegality perpetrated during the last general elections that put the governing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State at unprecedented advantage over the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates are soonest to manifest.

In the national and state assembly election petitions tribunal, sitting in Osogbo, state capital, the APC's candidates in the elections had motions ex parte separately listed up, varying from 5 to 11 paragraphs of orders or reliefs sought on affidavits and granted by the court as prayed to inspect Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)'s vital election materials without waiting for a response from the other side, INEC in the instance. The circumstances on hand met the threshold test of compelling emergency before the tribunal, and the tribunal overlooked the general principles of notice and granted the APC petitions the right to be heard one after the other, based on the evidence, motion, affidavits and other documents provided by the petitioners.

The petitions had arisen from the national assembly elections held in the state on Saturday, February 25, 2023. The three-member tribunal had earlier called for the petitioners and counsels to show appearance in the petitions EPT/OS/SEN/01/M/2023, Surajuudeen Ajibola Basiru (APC) v.INEC & Fadeyi Oluwole Olubiyi (PDP); EPT/OS/SEN/02/M/2023, Raheem Amidu Tadase (APC) v. INEC & Oyewumi Kamorudeen Olalere (PDP); EPT/OS/SEN/03/M/2023, Famurewa Isreal Ajibola (APC) v. INEC & Fadahunsi Adenigba Francis (PDP); EPT/OS/HR/01/M/2023, Adereti Benjamin Kayode (APC) v. INEC & Ajilesore Taofeek Abimbola (PDP); EPT/OS/HR/02/M/2023, Akeem Atanda Bello (APC) v. INEC & Salam Bamdele (PDP); EPT/OS/HR/03/M/2023, Amobi Yinusa Akintola (APC) v. INEC & Mudasiru Lukman Alani (PDP); EPT/OS/HR/04/M/2023, Odofin David Oluseun (APC) v. INEC & Oke Busayo Oluwole (PDP); EPT/OS/HR/05/M/2023, Ayeni Lawrence Babatunde (APC) v. INEC & Omirin Emmanuel Olusanya (PDP); EPT/OS/HR/06/M/2023, Oluawo Moshood Adekunle v. INEC & Adetunji Abidemi Olusoji (PDP); and  EPT/OS/HR/07/M/2023, Olugga Taiwo Olukemi (APC) v. INEC & Oladebo Lanre Omoleye (PDP).

Counsels at the tribunal would have some hectic times as the tribunal gets underway soonest than soon once the tribunal cashed in on INEC's vital election materials accessed or inspected by the petitioners and are affirmed or admitted as exhibits by the tribunal, and the counsels to both sides in each case, expectedly to get horn locked in cross examinations, fierce legal duel on points of law, persuasively cited as legal authorities.

By the writer's readings,  the tribunal is not one, given to ostrich playing to permit lawyers on the two sides to take issues to the realms of absurdity, arrogance and intransigence, and trigger legal rascality or outrage induced embarrassment to the tribunal or prospect the tribunal, suffering indignity from rowdy judicial conduct to render the tribunal proceedings prostrate. The readings however pointed up the lawyers' excitement and high expectations at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal, yesterday, Saturday.

The counsels educed appearance, but the APC candidates as clients didn't evoke any appearance except Adereti Benjamin Kayode and Odofin's representative who beat their respective chests for the petitions and swore to have INEC falsified poll results upturned legally in their favour. One PDP notable bigwig who probably strayed to the tribunal like the writer and several others, passing by and branched off. The PDP chieftain was visibly infuriated by the the APC candidates' determination to reclaim the mandate, freely given to them at the polls.

Otunba Jumoke Ogunkeyede (JMK) with knacks for leftist political activism in United States of America, USA, and corresponding progressive politics back in Nigeria was sighted at the tribunal all through that Saturday and till the court adjourned at its behest to resume same manner. The writer sought JMK's opinion on the Appeal Court in Abuja, seeking on Monday, March 13, 2023, "to hear all the sides to the matter," and communicate the judgement date later in the governorship case between erstwhile Governor Gboyega Oyetola and Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun. JMK, who retorted that his party would get the election of PDP candidates into the National Assembly, NASS, nullified by the tribunal, also charged Adeleke to start preparing his handover notes. The advice came by from all the pointers to Oyetola's growing legal visibility and winning streaks.

The tribunal's hall, superintended by unmarked security operatives, sniffing inside, apparently not for nothing; and in the outside, surveillance mounted by stern looking police against any possible invasion by political thugs to violate the premises or disrupt the tribunal proceedings. Indeed, there was no need of security reinforcement as there was no gory sight to have the rough side of security operatives.

 _*OLUSESI is Deputy Director, Directorate of Publicity, Research & Strategy, All Progressives Congress, Osun State*_ .


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