The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on Friday declared the People’s Democratic Party candidate in the Sept. 22 , 2018 governorship election in the state, Senator Ademola Adeleke, as the duly elected governor of the state.
The tribunal sitting in Abuja, sacked Gboyega Oyetola, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, adding he was not duly elected.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Oyetola winner after a supplementary election was held on Sept. 27.
Dissatisfied with the declaration of Oyetola as the winner, Adeleke had approached the tribunal seeking for nullification of Oyetola’s election, based on irregularities.and asked to be declared the winner.
In yesterday’s judgment, the three man panel upheld Adeleke’s submission and thus nullified the election of Oyetola and orderedI INEC to immediately withdraw the Certificate of Return earlier issued to Oyetola as the winner.
The tribunal held that Adeleke scored the lawful majority votes at the election contrary to the declaration by INEC.
The tribunal in declaring Adeleke as winner of the election, also ordered that a fresh Certificate of Return be issued to him immediately.
The panel held that the returning officer ought not to have cancelled the election in some polling units in the first place as he lacked the connstitutional powers to do so.
The tribunal held that the supplementary election was a product of an illegal cancellation of the results in the seven polling units during the September 22, 2018 main election.
The tribunal held that Oyetola ould therefore not had scored the lawful majority votes casted during the election.
Delivering the majority judgment, Justice Peter Obiorah ordered INEC withdrawal of Certificate of Return issued to Oyetola.
The tribunal also set aside the rerun election conducted on September 27, 2018 for being unlawful.
Justice obiorah held that the poll conducted in seven uniits is unknown to law because INEC has no power to conduct it.
The tribunal agreed that PDP and Adeleke established beyond reasonable doubt that INEC did not comply substantially with the Electoral Act in 17 polling units.
The tribunal said the returning officer acted ultras vires his powers in cancelling the seven units.
Consequently, over 2,000 votes credited to the APC and Governor Oyetola were deducted from the total votes credited to the party by INEC, while over 1,000 votes said to have been scored by the PDP and its candidate were also removed from their total votes.
Earlier, while ruling on an objection filed against the petition by APC, Oyetola and INEC, the tribunal had dismissed the objection as misconceived. The tribunal held it has jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Justice Adegboye Ayinla Gbolagunte the third members of the tribunal agreed with the lead judgment delivered by Justice Obiorah.
The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mohammed Ibrahim Sirajo, however, dissenting in his judgment, held that the petitioners, PDP and Adeleke failed to prove how the non-compliance of non-recording in the columns of accredited votes and account of ballots in the result sheets substantially affected the final results.
Justice Sirajo further stated that even when non- substantial compliance affects the outcome of the election, the tribunal by virtue of section 140(2) of the Electoral Act, does not have the power to subtract the votes affected by the noncompliance from the scores of the candidates and announce a winner.
According to him the tribunal only has the power to nullify the results of the Polling units affected by the noncompliance and order a supplementary poll.
He concluded that even if the noncompliance was substantial, it was not proved by the petitioners.
He therefore dismissed the petition of Adeleke’s and the
Meanwhile, the Osun State Government has reacted to the victory of the opposition governorship candidate at the election tribunal.
In a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government of Osun (SSG), Wole Oyebamiji, on Friday evening, the government said it remains committed to the legal battle.
“The Government of the State of Osun wishes to appreciate the teeming support of the majority of the people in all things essential for mutual progress.
“As it is, the administration of His Excellency, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, Governor, State of Osun wishes to assure the people that the judgment of the Election Tribunal has been put on appeal.
This is to further assure all the residents of the state of adequate security of lives and properties, as the government of the state is still the only legitimate government having the authority to govern the state.
“We assure all our people that justice will prevail at last, and the law enforcement agencies have been instructed to maintain law and order across the State.
“We, therefore, urge all the residents of the state to go about their lawful duties without any hindrance,” Mr Oyebamiji said.
Based on Nigerian laws, Mr Oyetola will remain in office, despite the tribunal ruling, until all options of appeal are exhausted which is often after the ruling of the Supreme Court.”