A few hours after the Osun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal declared Senator Ademola Adeleke as the winner of the September 2018 governorship poll, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has initiated an appeal against the judgement.
The tribunal yesterday directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the duly-elected governor of the state.
When the first leg of the election was conducted, Adeleke led the polls but INEC declared it inconclusive and after the supplementary election, the commission returned Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, as the governor.
But yesterday, the tribunal voided Oyetola’s victory and awarded it to Adeleke.
As jubilation erupted in Adeleke’s camp, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, the state APC director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, issued a statement in Osogbo, the state capital, declaring that the verdict would not stand superior legal scrutiny.
”We are going to appeal the judgment,” Oyatomi said, stressing that “the verdict cannot stand superior legal scrutiny. Therefore, we will appeal against it.’’
The state chapter of the PDP promptly disagreed with him as the party commended the judiciary for what it called a “landmark judgment.”
In his reaction, the state PDP chairman, Mr. Soji Adagunodo, said that the victory was for the people of the state.
Adagunodo said that the judgment showed that “we still have men of impeccable character in the judiciary.
”Kudos to the Nigerian judiciary and this shows that we still have men of impeccable character in the judiciary. Truly, the judiciary is the last hope of common man,’’ he said.
Adagunodo said since the APC had decided to appeal the judgment, his party would await the outcome at the appellate court.
Reacting to the verdict, the secretary to the state government (SSG), Mr. Wole Oyebamiji, called on the people of the state to remain calm and noted that the judgment had been put on appeal.
Oyebamiji said: Government 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 the security of their 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,” the SSG said.
The tribunal sitting in Abuja, in a split decision of two to one, yesterday nullified the election of Oyetola.
The tribunal ordered INEC to immediately withdraw the certificate of return it earlier issued Oyetola.
The tribunal declared Adeleke as the duly elected governor and ordered INEC to immediately accord him the status.
In the majority judgment delivered by Justice Peter Obiora, the tribunal set aside the rerun election conducted on September 27, 2018, for being unlawful.
Justice Obiora held that the poll conducted in the 7 units was unknown to law because INEC has no power to do so.
The tribunal agreed that the PDP and Adeleke established beyond reasonable doubt that INEC did not comply substantially with the Electoral Act in 17 polling units.
Consequently, over 2,000 votes credited to the APC and Oyetola were deducted from the total votes he received while over 1,000 votes said to have been scored by the PDP and its candidate were also removed from their total votes.
The court held in its majority judgment that the returning officer who cancelled the result in the affected units after the announcement had no power to have done so.
Earlier, in a ruling on an objection filed against the petition by the APC, Oyetola and INEC, the tribunal held that it was misconceived and that the tribunal has jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
The objection was dismissed by the tribunal.
The minority judgment delivered by Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, chairman of the tribunal, however, held that the petitioners – the 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 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 non-compliance 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 non-compliance and order a supplementary poll.
He concluded that even if the non-compliance was substantial, it was not proved by the petitioners.
PDP, Atiku Congratulate Adeleke, Hail Judiciary
Meanwhile, the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has described the judiciary as truly the defender of Nigeria’s democracy.
Atiku stated this when he reacted to the verdict of the election tribunal declaring the Adeleke as the winner of 22nd September, 2018 governorship election.
In a statement issued yesterday by his media aide, Paul Ibe, Atiku noted that the restoration of the stolen mandate of Senator Adeleke showed that indeed the judiciary remains the last refuge of the common man and that in truth, those who were aggrieved and resolved to maintain the peace, have been vindicated.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy has come for the people of Osun,” he said.
The Waziri Adamawa commended the courage of the judiciary and its resilience even in the face of strenuous efforts by the APC-led government to undermine and intimidate it.
“The judgment has rekindled hope and confidence that those whose mandate had been tampered with or denied can look forward to justice being done to them” and urged “the judiciary to remain steadfast as the eyes of all Nigerians and indeed the whole world are on them to help ensure that democracy in Nigeria is put on a solid foundation.”
Similarly, the PDP described the judgement as a victory for democracy and the will of the people.
The party said that the judgment was a clear indicator that those who set out to destroy “our democracy can never triumph and that no matter how evil and injustice appear to thrive, the truth must always prevail at the end.”
In a statement he issued, PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that “Nigerians have accepted democracy as a way of life and a form of government that suits the multi-plurality of our nation.
“The spontaneous jubilation that greeted this judgment is, therefore, a direct indication that it is consistent with the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians across the board.
“For those who have been desperate to destroy our democracy, this judgment has proven to them that their shenanigans will always come to no avail,” he said.
Jubilation In Osogbo, Ede
Wild jubilation yesterday greeted the verdict as PDP supporters trooped out in their large numbers to the streets Osogbo, the state capital.
Also in Ede, residents turned out en mass to mark the ruling at Adeleke’s country home and at the Oja-Oba area of the town.
Adagunodo (PDP chairman) told newsmen in Osogbo that the victory was an act of God.
Adagunodo said that he knew from the outset of the party’s struggle for the mandate that God Almighty would do justice and had done it.
He dedicated the victory to God and the people of the state. He also commended the judiciary for doing a good job and standing on the path of truth.
Also, the World Bishops Council (WBC) Africa praised the judiciary for its courage in adjudicating with the fear of God.
In a statement issued by the council’s spokesman, Bishop Seun Adeoye, on behalf of WBC’s Africa Nuncio, Bishop Godspower Akandu, he described the judgment as a victory for the judiciary in Nigeria under the present dispensation.
The WBC stated that with the judgment there is now hope for the common man adding that democracy would now feel a sigh of relief.
“WBC congratulates the winner of the Osun governorship election as announced by the tribunal, Senator Ademola Adeleke and urged Mr. Gboyega Oyetola to take steps necessary as allowed by the law of the country to seek redress,” Adeoye said.
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