Friday, 5 July 2019

Osun Election: Why Supreme Court ruled in favor of APC's Gboyega Oyetola

The supreme court on Friday upheld Gboyega Oyetola, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the governor of Osun state.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Oyetola winner of the Osun governorship election after a controversial rerun in September 2018.




Dissatisfied with INEC’s declaration, Ademola Adeleke, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, filed a petition against at the tribunal.

The tribunal ruled in Adeleke’s favour and declared him the winner of the election. In a split judgment of two to one, the tribunal ruled that INEC was wrong to have ordered a rerun election. It nullified the rerun.

The court also ruled that INEC did not comply with its guidelines on results from 17 polling units.

The tribunal then deducted the results of both parties from the declared total of votes in the affected 17 polling units.

According to the tribunal, the PDP won the election with 254,698 votes, while the APC came second with 253,452 votes.

The tribunal also said that the PDP would still have won the poll even if it had opted to validate the supplementary election.

But in a contrary opinion in May, the Court of Appeal ruled that “the tribunal was in patent error when it set aside the rerun.”

The appellate court, which had also delivered its verdict in a split decision of four to one, ruled that the judge who issued the majority decision at the tribunal, Peter Obiora, was absent on February 6, 2019, when a major discussion on the issue of none-compliance was tabled before the tribunal; and could therefore not have viewed the issue squarely.

Apparently dissatisfied, Adeleke challenged the decision at the Supreme Court.

In May, the appeal court gave judgement in favour of the APC candidate.

The court set aside the entire proceedings of the tribunal. It said the tribunal panel was not well constituted.

The apex court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal which nullified the judgement of the Osun State election petition tribunal.

The Supreme Court in a split judgement on Friday agreed substantially with the Court of Appeal which ruled that a majority judgement delivered at the tribunal was a nullity.

The court said the judge who had read the majority judgement at the tribunal, Peter Obiora, was evidently absent on February 6, following the documents before the court.

It said the failure of Obiora to be present on that day meant that the tribunal lacked the authorities to have given any judgment on the matter.

Two of the seven members of the Supreme Court panel, however, disagreed with the ruling.

The Supreme Court ruling was read by Bode Rhodes-Vivour.

From the ruling, it is clear the apex court based their decision on technical breach of procedure rather than on the substantive merit of the case against INEC. A legal technicality!

Meanwhile, Adeleke has congratulated Oyetola over his victory at the supreme court.

In a statement by Olawale Rasheed, his spokesman, Adeleke said the judgement remained final, regardless of his misgivings.

He added that his ambition to be the governor of the state was never a “do-or-die affair”.

“As a democrat and law-abiding citizen, I accept the ruling no matter my misgivings,” he said.

“I wish Governor Oyetola well in the governance of Osun State. In all circumstances, we must thank God Almighty. We gallantly fought a good fight in pursuance of a democratic cause. The ideals we fought for lives on.

“Our ambition was never a do-or-die affair. We aspired to serve and deliver democratic dividends to the people of Osun state. Our ambition was altruistic. We wish Governor Oyetola the best in the governance of the state.”




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