The Court of Appeal yesterday upturned the verdict of the Osun governorship election tribunal that declared former governor Adegboyega Oyetola as the duly elected governor of Osun State in the July 16 governorship election in the state.
In a swift reaction, the state governor, Ademola Adeleke, dedicated his victory at to God and the people of Osun State. The Court of Appeal in Abuja set aside the decision of the Osun State governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which nullified the election of Senator Ademola Adeleke as Governor of Osun State.
Consequently, the Appellate Court affirmed Adeleke as the winner of the state’s governorship election of July, 2022. Delivering judgment in the appeal filed by Adeleke on Friday, a three-member panel of Justices held that the Tribunal erred when it ruled that the 1st and 2nd respondents (Gboyega Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress) proved their allegation of over-voting in the July 2022 election.
The appellate court gave the judgement in a 31-grounds of appeal filed by Adeleke challenging the nullification of his electoral mandate, and handing same over to former governor Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress. Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party had won the said election held on 16 July, 2022, but the result was nullified by the tribunal on the grounds of over-voting.
Oyetola and his party, APC had in August 2022, petitioned the tribunal to challenge the victory of Adeleke on the grounds that he did not qualify to contest the election and that there was over voting in 749 polling units across 10 local government areas of the state.
Consequently, a 3-man panel of the tribunal ordered Adeleke’s sack, and directed the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the certificate of return issued to him and issue a fresh one to Oyetola. The tribunal held that Adeleke did not score the majority of lawful votes during the July 16, governorship election.
In a split judgement, two out of the three-member panel of the tribunal held that Oyetola proved substantially that there was indeed over-voting in some of the polling units. Miffed by the decision if the tribunal, Adeleke, PDP and INEC, all headed to the appellate court to seek redress.
Delivering judgment Friday, the panel led by Justice Mohamed Lawal Shuaibu held that the tribunal erred on the side of law by not addressing the issues raised by Adeleke in his preliminary objection to Oyetola’s petition. Justice Shuaibu added that Oyetola and APC, being the petitioners at the tribunal did not prove that with cogent evidence, the allegation of over voting and non compliance with the Electoral Act.
The panel held that it was wrong for Oyetola and APC to rely on report from INEC back end server to allege over voting without tendering in evidence, BVAS device, voters register and result collation forms to validate their claims. Also, the court held that the tribunal was wrong to have relied on the table produced from back end server and not from date contained in the BVAS device.