The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Osogbo, the state capital, has nullified the election of Governor Ademola Adeleke, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) , as the duly elected governor of the state.
The Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Tertsea Kume, said the July 16, 2022 governorship election did not comply with the Electoral Act.
The tribunal in a split judgement of two to one, asked the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Adeleke and issued same to former Governor Adegboyega Oyetola.
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Tertsea said that there was indeed over voting in six local government areas in the state.
After cancelling out 744 out of 749 polling units from where the APC alleged over-voting, the APC eventually led the PDP.
The majority judgement which was read by the Chairman, Justice Tertse Kume said Oyetola scored the majority lawful votes of 314,931 against Adeleke’s 290,266.
In its lead judgement, read by the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Tertsea Kume, it said the petitioners have proven the allegations of over-voting beyond reasonable doubt and it was the duty of the court to deduct the invalid votes from the lawful votes cast at the election.
After deducting the unlawful votes, the tribunal declared that Oyetola of the APC scored 314,931 votes, while Adeleke scored 290,266 votes.
The panel directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Adeleke and subsequently issue another certificate of return to Oyetola as the validly elected Governor of the state.
The chairman said, the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) report issued to the Petitioners clearly showed that there was over-voting in the result declared by the INEC.
According to the panel, none of the witnesses of the respondents disputed the evidence of the petitioners as regards over voting on the BVAs report, just as the INEC did not withdraw the BVAS report issued to the Petitioners.
The panel further ruled that the arguments of the respondents that the BVAS reports issued to the petitioners was “unsynchronized and inchoate” was misconceived, as such claims were not shown on the report.
On the respondents’ argument that the Petitioners did not call any oral evidence to prove the alleged over voting, the tribunal held that fact admitted needed no proof, as the respondents’ witnesses have admitted over-voting in the result declared by the commission based on the purported syncronished BVAS report issued to the respondents.
He held that the evidence before the panel was that the election was held in substantial non-compliance with the provision of the law, through manipulation of BVAS.
According to him, the petitioners does not need to tender the voters register to prove accreditation, saying what Section 51(2) of the Electoral Act provide is that, for the purpose of accreditation only the BVAS machine would be used.
The Tribunal further noted that the electoral act provides that where there is over voting, the result for the said unit should be cancelled, adding that”it is the duty of the tribunal to deduct invalid votes from lawful votes”.
The chairman then recommended that to forestall manipulation of BVAS machine in the conduct of subsequent elections, the INEC server should be linked to the Nigeria Police server and linked with National Security Adviser for transparency, saying any of the report emanating from these sources can be subjected to investigation.
The tribunal averred that despite the declaration of the INEC to conduct a free and fair election, the conduct of its officer has contradicted the claim.
In its decision on the qualification of Adeleke to contest the election over forgery of certificate, the panel ruled that though it was established that the Secondary School Certificate of Ede Muslim Grammar School was forged, it was not enough to disqualify him, as he had other certificates he presented.
Meanwhile, in a minority judgement, a member of the panel, Justice Benedict Amangbe Ogbuli, said the petitioners could not have proven over-voting by BVAS report alone, saying, the voters’ register is also required to prove over-voting for the affected units and as such should also have been tendered and put into consideration.
He said, the petitioner failed to proved the allegation of over-voting and subsequently dismiss the petition.