Oyetola, Adeleke To Know Fate Tomorrow - AMEBO NEWSPAPERS NG.


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Oyetola, Adeleke To Know Fate Tomorrow

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The Supreme Court will tomorrow put to rest, the issues generated by the September 22, 2018 Osun State governorship election.

A lot of issues came into the fore before the verdict expected tomorrow.

Although no fewer than 20 political parties slugged it out diring the governorship election on 22nd September, 2018, five of them remained conspicuous.

These are the All Progressives Congress,  (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Social Democratic Party (SDP),  Action Democratic Party (ADP) and the African Democratic Congress (ADC).

The governorship candidates of these parties were, Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola, Senator Ademola Adeleke, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti and Alhaji Fatai Akinade Akinbade, respectively.

Until the election was conducted and results released, it was assumed that any of them could emerge as governor, an indication that the election was keenly contested.

The intrigue that played out during power play, god-fatherism, dialectic and senatorial district politics was responsible for the assumption of emergence of any of the candidates.

Osun State is known to be politically conscious and the practitioners therein are of high profile.

The election was eventually conducted on the 22nd of September, 2018 with little or no hitch and could be adduced to be a tremendous improvement on past elections conducted by INEC.

After the collation of results at the Independent National Electoral Commission Headquarters in  Osogbo, the electoral body declared the election inconclusive in the early hours of 23rd of September, 2018.

In the election declared, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ademola Adeleke, polled 254,698 votes to defeat that of the candidate of All Progressives Congress, Gboyega Oyetola, who polled 254,345 votes.

The inconclusiveness declared was due to irregularities which marred the election at some polling units in Ife North, Ife South and Orolu local government areas, including cases of card reader malfunctioning, ballot box snatching, among others.

INEC had to cancel 3,498 votes recorded in the affected polling units and declared a rerun in the affected polling units.

Quoting INEC’s Standing Rules the Returning Officer and Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Prof Joseph Fuwape, said since the margin between the two leading candidates was lower than the registered cancelled votes.

He stated that a rerun would take place at the affected polling units on Thursday, September 27, 2018

The election of 27th of September came under sever criticism because of some alleged malpractices which included militarization of the electoral process, intimidation among others.

The candidate of the APC in Osun State, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, was eventually declared the winner of the election.

The Returning Officer, Prof Joseph Fuwape, declared Oyetola winner of the election after the collation of the results of the supplementary election in seven polling units.

Oyetola polled a total of 255,505 votes to emerge the winner of the poll while the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party polled a total of 255,023 votes to come second in the contest.

Not satisfied by the announcement of Oyetola as the governor elect, the runner-up which is the candidate of the Ademola Adeleke and his party dragged Oyetola and his party APC to the State Election Petition Tribunal.

The tribunal, in its March 22, 2019 split judgment of two-to-one, nullified Oyetola’s victory and declared Adeleke the winner of the election.

The tribunal Chairman, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, in his minority judgment, dissented from the majority judgment credited to Justices Peter Obiorah and Adegboye Gbolagunte.

Wild jubilation greeted the Tribunal judgement particularly in Ede, the hometown of Senator Ademola Adeleke and Osogbo the state capital.

While Senator Ademola Adeleke and his party lauded the tribunal verdict, the All Progressives Congress condemned the judgement and vowed to appeal the verdict.

The APC eventually approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja so that the court might right perceived errors of the Election petition tribunal.

Before then an ugly incidence started rearing  it’s ugly head, it came from within and without the Peoples Democratic Party.

The first was a member of the PDP,  Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi who went to court to challenge the candidacy of Senator Ademola Adeleke as the bona-fide candidate of PDP.

The case dragged to Court of Appeal level and the judgements validate the candidacy of Ademola Adeleke as PDP candidate.

Then came the School Certificate result and School Testimonial saga spearheaded by security operatives.

No fewer than four courts of various levels adjudicate on this and Adeleke floored them all through.

Back to the real issue, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal eventually upturned the verdict of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.

The Court of Appeal, in a four-to-one split decision of its five-man panel, led by Justice Jummai Sankey, nullified the majority verdict of the tribunal, which gave victory to Adeleke.

The Court of Appeal upheld Oyetola’s victory at the poll in three judgments delivered on separate appeals filed by the governor; his party (the APC); and the Independent National Electoral Commission, challenging the tribunal’s verdict.

Justice Sankey, along with three other members of the panel, Justices Abubakar Yahaya, Isaiah Akeju, and Bitrus Sanga, adopted the majority judgments on the three appeals, which went in favour of the APC and its candidate.

However, a member of the panel, Justice George Mbaba, dissented from the majority judgments on the three appeals.

Justice Mbaba dismissed the three appeals and upheld the majority judgment of the tribunal which declared Adeleke the winner of the Osun State governorship election.

The majority judgment upturned the majority judgment of the tribunal on three major grounds.

It held that the absence of the author of the majority judgment of the tribunal, Justice Obiorah, during the February 6, 2019 proceedings of the tribunal had rendered the entire proceedings of the tribunal, including its judgment, a nullity.

It further held that the absence of the records of usage of ballot papers and other details on Form EC8A, the result sheets in 17 polling units where the polls were cancelled by the tribunal was not an issue of non-compliance that should warrant the deduction of votes polled by both the APC and the PDP in the units from the parties’ overall scores.

Delivering the lead judgment on Oyetola’s appeal, Justice Sankey agreed with Oyetola’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) that due to his non-participation in the February 6, 2019 proceedings, Justice Obiorah, who turned out to be the one who wrote the lead majority judgment, could not have validly reviewed the evidence given during the said proceeding.

She went on to resolve 10 out of the 12 issues raised in the appeal in favour of Oyetola and the rest in favour of the PDP and Adeleke.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice George Mbaba ruled, “The allegation that Justice Obiorah did not sit on February 6, 2019 is founded on speculation. The allegation is at best a well-articulated speculation by the appellant’s lawyers.

He wondered why Oyetola’s lawyer failed to raise the issue of Justice Obiorah’s alleged absence from the said February 6, 2018 proceedings at the tribunal, but chose to raise it for the first time at the Court of Appeal.

He dismissed the appeal and awarded the cost of N200,000 against Oyetola and his party.

In her lead judgment in the appeal filed by INEC, Justice Sankey ruled, “The absence of the ballot accounting in the Forms EC8A in 17 polling units is not substantial non-compliance and did not substantially affect the results of the election.”

On the allegation of “non-compliance” on which the tribunal anchored its decision, Justice Sankey ruled, “The only appropriate order is for a rerun as provided under Section 140(2) of the Electoral Act but not to re-compute the results of the election and to proceed to declare the 1st respondent or any other person the winner of the election.

“The tribunal was in patent error when it set aside the rerun election. especially when it found that the conduct of the rerun was not marred by malpractices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, leading to the unwarranted disenfranchisement of voters in the seven polling units.”

Justice Yahaya who read the lead judgment on the APC’s appeal also resolved similar issues in favour of the party and against the PDP and its candidate.

But dissenting, Mbaba said the APC’s appeal was “the same in spirit, content and fact” and as such he had no cause to deviate from the dissenting opinion he offered in respect of Oyetola’s appeal.

He held that the tribunal was right to have rejected the doctored certified true copies of the election in 17 polling units as presented by INEC.

He said the disparity in the certified true copies of Forms EC8A, the results of the election and the duplicate copies tendered and admitted by the tribunal in respect of the seven polling units, “goes to the root of something dangerous INEC was doing.”

He added, “In my view, the cancellation of the results in the 17 polling units was a prelude to declaring the election inclusive. The INEC’s returning officer has no power to cancel the result of the election in a polling unit. It is the presiding officer of the polling unit who has the power to cancel the result in the polling unit and will now send a report to the returning officer for affirmation.

Reacting to the judgment Governor Oyetola said the judgment had validated the mandate given to him on September 22 and 27, 2018 by the people of Osun State.

Referring to the voters, he said, “You spoke with conviction; your voice and choice are clear to the world and the judiciary, the last hope of the people and arbiter of the truth, has proved to the world that it is always on the side of justice.

“This victory has proved to all and sundry that there is a limit to the extent falsehood and propaganda can thrive over truth and the will of the people.

“I urge you all to be peaceful and to go about your legitimate businesses as we revel in this well-deserved victory,” the governor said in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Niyi Adesina.

With the news of the Appeal Court judgment, members of the ruling All Progressives Congress took to the streets of Osogbo, Osun State capital in jubilation.

They were seen around Olaiya Junction around 12pm singing victory songs.  The group later moved towards Okefia to receive Oyetola and top members of his cabinet who arrived in a convoy.

The crowd later converged on Olaiya Junction and moved through Odiolowo Workers’ Drive to other parts of the state capital, singing and dancing.

However, in Ede, the hometown of Senator Ademola Adeleke, there was no jubilation, even as the APC members celebrated moderately.

Also in Ile Ife, the hometown of Hon. Albert Adeogun, Adeleke’s Deputy, was calm as residents of Lagere, Enuwa, Mayfair went on with their daily routines.

In the Iragbaji, hometown of Governor Oyetola, many residents stormed the streets to celebrate.

However, the PDP vows to retrieve their mandate at the Supreme Court

In its reaction to the judgment, the Peoples Democratic Party expressed confidence that Senator Adeleke will retrieve his mandate at the Supreme Court.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party insisted there was no way the will of the people would be abandoned.

The statement reads, “It is instructive to state that the Court of Appeal did not contest or invalidate the fact that Senator Adeleke won the election but only cited technicalities and speculations to arrive at its decision.

“The PDP has also noted that the Court of Appeal failed to act on the full and substantial import of the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission to produce the ballot papers and record of accreditation to disprove our position that INEC altered results and subverted the will of the people of Osun State.

“Our party and candidate are therefore confident that the Supreme Court will look at the merit of the matter and ensure that justice is served by recognising Senator Ademola Adeleke as Osun State governor.”

The Supreme Court after hearing the appeal of Adeleke fixed 5th of July for final judgment.

In anticipation of the verdict, both the parties concerned have gone spiritual  to seek the face of God/gods as the case may be.

At its party Secretariat located at Bicket area along Ikirun road, members of the party converged on large numbers to pray for victory at the Apex court just as they welcomed some decampees from the Action People’s Congress led by Dr. Dotun Babayemi.

Religious leaders from Christians, Muslims and traditionals led sessions of prayers to ensure victory for PDP.

Also, ward chairmen of APC in the 30 local government areas of Osun held a marathon prayer session to also seek the face of God.

Generally, anxiety has continued to prevail in all the nooks and crannies of the state as the people await the court’s verdict tomorrow.

Source: Independent

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