The Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has reversed the results of the 16 July 2022 governorship election and declared Gboyega Oyetola as the winner of the election.
The tribunal, on Friday in Osogbo, annulled the result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which gave victory in the election to Mr Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The tribunal directed INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Mr Adeleke and his deputy, Kola Adewusi, both of whom had been sworn in.
The panel led by Justice Terste Kume directed that the certificate of return should instead be issued to Mr Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mr Kume held that the governorship election was not held in compliance with Nigeria’s Electoral Act.
The tribunal held that the governorship election was characterised by over-voting. It said after deducting the excessive votes, the figure Mr Adeleke polled came down to 290,666: lower than the 314,921 polled by Mr Oyetola.
The tribunal, thus, ordered that Mr Oyetola should be returned as governor of Osun State.
Mr Adeleke had been declared the winner with a total of 403,371 votes. He won in 17 of the 30 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state.
Mr Oyetola of the APC won in the remaining 13 LGAs with 375,027 votes
Fifteen candidates contested for the governorship election but it was keenly contested between Mr Adeleke and Mr Oyetola.
In his petition, Mr Oyetola, the immediate past governor of the state, claimed that the election was characterised by over-voting in 749 polling units.
He also argued that Mr Adeleke forged the academic credentials he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest for the election.
Mr Adeleke has said he will appeal the ruling of the tribunal. He will therefore remain in office pending the final determination of the matter by the superior courts.
The tribunal commenced sitting in August 2022, a few weeks after the governorship election.
Mr Oyetola and the APC are petitioners in the case with Lateef Fagbemi and Akin Olujimi as their lead counsel.
INEC is the first defendant, Mr Adeleke the second defendant and PDP the third defendant.
Paul Ananaba is the counsel to INEC, Alex Iziyon is the counsel to PDP and Onyechi Ikpeazu is the counsel to Mr Adeleke. All the counsel are senior advocates.
The second member of the tribunal, Justice P. A Ogbuli, in a minority judgement, disagreed with the position of the tribunal.
Mr Ogbuli held that the petitioners failed to prove that there were over-votings in the governorship election.
He held that the petitioners’ witnesses who testified before the panel did not convince him that there was over-voting.
Mr Ogbuli said the petitioners ought to have brought the total registered voters to court to claim that over-votings truly occurred.
He, therefore, dismissed the petitioner’s case against Mr Adeleke, PDP and INEC.
But the third member of the panel said she agreed with the judgement of the majority.
Adeleke heads to appeal
Mr Adeleke’s counsel, Nathaniel Oke, disclosed that his clients will challenge the judgement at the appellate court.
Mr Oke expressed dissatisfaction with the majority’s judgment.
“The judgement has been delivered, nullifying the election that had been conducted on 16 July 2022. The reality on the ground is that we are dissatisfied and the necessary legal basis for the purpose of challenging that judgement we will embark upon it,” he said.
“The minority judgement may not necessarily be the judgement of the court but we are in total agreement with the position the minority judgment has delivered. But you will recall that it is only two people that delivered judgment in respect of this matter.”
The counsel to INEC, Paul Ananaba, also expressed dissatisfaction with the majority judgement.
Mr Ananaba who urged residents of the state to be calm also hinted that the electoral commission will challenge the judgement at the appeal court.
“One of the judges of the tribunal, the chairman, delivers what appears to me the majority judgement. Second member of the panel delivered a dissenting judgment. The third member thanked everybody but did not read any judgement. These are issues that we will have to look into and get back to the commission and take appropriate decision.
“But anybody who listen to the judgement will see the industry and the position of the law on BVAS which is the primary. And that is the minority position that BVAS is the primary source of what transpired on the day of the election. As stated by the minority judgement, it is the correct position of the law as far as we are concerned,” he said.
“The people of Osun should be calm, there are constitutional provisions on what should be done. I believe that the court of appeal has a duty.”
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