Tuesday 16 May 2023


When the news of the Supreme Court decision on Osun State governorship was heard, reactions in the state were partly with justifiable disgust and partly with applause. And social media feeds were awashed with commendation and condemnation of the court judgement.

The Supreme Court had in a unanimous judgement declared , "The entire proceedings at the tribunal is a nullity." It cited evidence from Biomodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and voters' registers, and held that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Mr Gboyega  Oyetola failed to substantiate the argument that the electoral presiding officers who conducted the elections in 774 polling units in the state where over-voting was alleged, didn't use BVAS machine. "It's glaring that the appellants could not prove over-voting," the court held and affirmed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)'s  Ademola Adeleke as Governor of Osun. 

Reactions with disgust? The apex court has operated as a super legislature with moral values as decisively over-riding criteria for the judgement on the Osun governorship brawl between Oyetola and Adeleke, and not on the basis of legal rules, sourced, interpreted and applied in the instance, with the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC)'s regulations and guidelines. This is the inventive truth in any seriously unbiased assessment of the court judgement. The judgement only distilled the moral contents but unfairly outside skilled application of legal rules in the judicial process on the Osun governorship.

The Supreme Court ought to have refused any injection of moral reasoning in its decision as essentially non - legal. After all, the governorship in question doesn't belong in any such highly visible moral issues as abortion, homosexuality, homeless remedies, woman battering or home violence that are currently in our courts and well within the ambit of morality with the rightness or wrongness of the issues, evaluated by their consonance with moral values.

In ironic contradistinction, the judgement of the Supreme Court on Osun governorship relied on and was rather influenced by the reported violence and palpable threats of breakdown of law and order in the state. The judgement, pointedly was to maintain political order in Osun. If the judgement had been otherwise, un- helped by the moral permissibility of the court, it's believed in the interrelatedness of judiciary and executive arms of government at the center that the Osun residents might, on reflex action, want to cause more troubles and create further socio-political dislocations by the free reign of political killings within the state to snowball to violence of unimaginable magnitude in presence, direction and distance. That's the rationale at this time that the nation is at the threshold of the exit of President Mohammud Buhari and take off of the President- elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Recall that relevant institutional intelligence hinted that not less than 35persons in Osun were killed on the heels of the 2023 general elections in the state, and of the number, 25 were officially declared to be APC's members and supporters in the state. Several others were severely injured from gun shots just as hoodlums reportedly made rapidly surprise violent attacks on the party chieftains' houses and businesses. That's why the outgoing President's congratulatory message to Adeleke reads in part: " Elections should be seen as the path to an end which is the progress of the people in a peaceful environment rather than unending bickering." That's Buhari, asking political gladiators in the state to consider the safety existence  of others. 

On reflective equilibrium, Buhari's desire for "peaceful environment" and aversion to " unending bickering" are an undeniable fact that moral reasoning of the Supreme Court and the consequent value judgement on Osun governorship is not on the court's own account, but in the interest of peaceful co- existence and stability in the state. The court, out to re- order the actions of  Osun residents for the maximum good of the state, exhibited moral duty that took seriously the worldview of electoral politics of violence in Osun. The court got the facts of those views, weighed the competing other ethical issues and values involved, sanctioned as right and acceptable, and prioritized alternative actions for the benefits of Osun as conscience demanded by logical interpretation for the articulation of its judgement. The court decision that Osun got in the final analysis is the conclusion reached by the court on the ethical evaluation of the political situation in the state in the aftermath of the elections.

We may all agree that fairness is important. How fair is the judgement for applause? Is the judgement purposeful or tragic as terrorist act? And is the judgement as significant as the result or effect in view? Of course, yes. The Supreme Court knows it has a strategic role in war, peace and stability. In the Osun political imbroglio, it didn't take the court time to break its restrictive bounds of legal technicalities in favour of empirical adjudication that called for insistent rational disposition to moral judgement on the state. And the judgement is fair, purposeful and for applause as it practically controlled the behaviour of Osun politicians on both sides of party affliations. It has also thus far enabled individuals in the state resume peaceful co- existence, reflecting that the significant effect of the judgement is achieved. And from the behaviourism of the judgement, teaching politicians and allies moral virtues, ethical norms has made the judgement neither tragic nor terrorist.

Caution, please. While the readings of the judgement - the planned rhetoric, non- dialectical and executive shaped with motives - lasted with audience in place, this writer was in Abuja at the Supreme Court but sat akimbo, away from individuals with specific impairment in reasoning about other's intention by the eye metre. The writer observed that the eye of the nation's most senior justices never roamed in the field of moral values or sentiments that could have got justice in the Osun governorship case alerted solely to the extant legal rules for interpretation and application and had APC- Oyetola declared winner. But the eye roamed sideways, ethically, almost simultaneously and had the court psychologically explained away the limitations placed on it by the Buhari executive arm of government in the observed relationship of power, his inclination to good effect of a judgement that would nip in the bud any further politically deliberate and brutal killings in Ilesa, other cities in Osun. 

And faced with the problem of resolving ethical dilemma, the Supreme Court as law detector, switched and applied moral persuasion, ethical reasoning that made its  judgement, Tuesday, May 9, 2023 on Osun governorship a moral judgement when it was clear that, with the executive abhorrence, hatred for "unending bickering" in the state, the judgement on the case elseways could become indeterminate or made the judgement half way, odd.

As it were, with morality made an inevitable feature of the legal proceedings of the apex court on Osun governorship, it's difficult to see any positive justification to let the judgement go the way it went. The judgement _aequum  et bonum_ is rather stigmatized as mere subjective. At best, coercive. The APC- Oyetola has only lost to the moral persuasion of the court, for the court and by the court.

It's 'judiciocracy' in Osun.

 OLUSESI is Deputy Director Directorate of Publicity Research Strategy All Progressives Congress (APC) Osun State

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