By John Kayode
The Supreme Court in Abuja on Tuesday affirmed the election of Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the duly elected governor of Osun State.
Starnews Nigeria reports that Oyetola had approached the Supreme Court to reverse the March 25, 2023, judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja which affirmed Adeleke’s victory in the last governorship election in Osun State.
The Appeal Court had, in its judgment, set aside an earlier judgment by the Osun Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which held in favour of Oyetola and sacked Adeleke as the Governor of Osun State.
But delivering judgement on Tuesday, the five-member panel of the Supreme Court again ruled in favour of Governor Adeleke. The court upheld the judgement of the court of appeal that validated the victory of Governor Adeleke as the duly elected governor of Osun State.
Upholding Mr. Adeleke’s victory, the Supreme Court struck out Oyetola’s petition against Adeleke and held that the petitioner failed to prove over-voting which was the foundation of the petition.
“Since the BVAS is the foundation of the Appellants’ case, failure to produce the BVAS was fatal. Appellant failed to prove the allegation of overvoting. The Supreme Court adopts BVAS as the primary source, therefore, exhibit BVR by Oyetola is hereby dismissed.
“INEC regulations does not provide for transportation of accredited voters to the database except snapped pictures of results form Ec8A to the IREV.
“BVAS does not operate in isolation of voters register , therefore voters register is relevant to the conduct of election”, the Supreme Court said.
On APC and Oyetola’s witness, “he has no personal knowledge of the case, he was not present in any of the polling units, his entire testimony in the case is incurable inadmissible”, the court ruled.
The court added that “Oyetola’s expert witness account could not stand because he is a member of APC and an appointee of Oyetola. His testimony is deemed weightless as an interested party. The failure of Oyetola to submit the voters’ register is fatal and destructive to his case. The Supreme Court held.”
The court further held that “Adeleke’s qualification is settled and no case of forgery is established against him.”
The Court subsequently affirmed Governor Ademola as the winner of the July 16th Osun gubernatorial election.
Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Mr Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the governorship election held in Osun State on 16 July 2022.
The INEC Chief Returning Officer for Osun, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who announced the result on the day after the election, said the PDP candidate scored 403,371 votes to emerge victorious.
According to INEC, Mr Adeleke defeated his closest challenger, Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who polled 375,027 votes.
But displeased by the declaration, Oyetola went to the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal to challenge the victory of Adeleke. Consequently, the three-member panel of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal headed by Terste Kume set aside Mr Adeleke’s victory in its verdict delivered on 27 January.
In a two-to-one split judgement, the majority decision of the tribunal declared Mr Oyetola the winner of the election.
Mr Kume, in the lead majority judgement, held that INEC failed to conduct the Osun governorship election in compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended).
The tribunal noted that the poll was marred by over-voting. It said after deducting the excessive votes that were cast, the figure Mr Adeleke scored came down to 290,666, which was lower than the 314,921 garnered by Mr Oyetola.
Consequently, the tribunal ordered that Mr Oyetola be returned as governor of Osun State.
However, in the minority decision, the second member of the tribunal, P A Ogbuli, said the petitioners – Mr Oyetola and the APC – failed to prove that there were cases of over-voting in the governorship election.
Mr Ogbuli noted that the petitioners’ witnesses in their testimony before the panel did not convince him that there was over-voting.
He said the petitioners should have brought the voters’ register to court to claim that over-voting occurred.
Starnews Nigeria reports that the case has finally be laid to set with the judgement of the apex court in Nigeria.