The Osun State Election Petitions Tribunal hearing the All Progressives Congress’ governorship candidate, Adegboyega Oyetola’s petition against the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party’s Ademola Adeleke on Friday annulled the result of the July 16 Osun governorship poll.
Oyetola and the APC had challenged Adeleke’s victory, even as the latter was declared the winner and returned elected by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The PUNCH highlights the activities which led to Adeleke’s initial ‘victory’ at the poll and his eventual loss at the state tribunal.
The July 16 election victory
INEC declared Adeleke the winner of the Osun governorship election on July 16, 2022.
The Returning Officer for the election and Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, announced that Adeleke got a total of 403,371 votes beating the incumbent Oyetola who got 375,027 votes in the keenly contested race.
Oyetola won in 13 Local Government Areas of the state to come second in the election.
Oyetola disagrees with Adeleke’s win
On August 5, 2022, Oyetola approached the Election Petitions Tribunal in Osogbo, the state capital, to nullify Adeleke’s win.
According to Oyetola, the election was fraught with certain “irregularities”.
He alleged that Adeleke ought not to have been declared winner as he was not qualified to have contested the election in the first place, having submitted a forged certificate to INEC.
Adeleke, Oyetola set for tribunal
In preparation for the tribunal, Adeleke assembled about 52 lawyers, including seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria, to defend his case at the Election Petition Tribunal.
Dr Alex Izinyon, Dr Paul Ananaba, and Dr Onyeachi Ikpeazu are among the seven SANs defending Adeleke and other respondents.
While Izinyon led another SAN and 16 other lawyers for the PDP, Ananaba would be representing INEC with two other SANs and 14 lawyers.
On his part, Oyetola assembled 50 lawyers including 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, listing 13 grounds on which premises Adeleke should be disqualified.
Key members of the legal team included Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Chief Akin Olujumi (SAN), Prince Biodun Layonu (SAN/, Muritala Abdulrasheed (SAN).
On August 22, the tribunal panel led by Justice Tetsea Kumes granted Oyetola’s application to serve the candidate notice of the petition through substituted means.
The tribunal, at its maiden sitting, also granted the motion ex parte filed for an order for the inspection of documents in the custody of INEC, being the first respondent in the suit.
The panel, which stated that its daily sitting would commence by 10am and end by 4 pm from Monday to Thursday, also noted that on Fridays, proceedings would end by 1 pm.
Oyetola presents documents
To back up his claims, Oyetola, through his counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, on November 1, 2022, tendered exhibits that include election results from Ede North, Ede South, and Osogbo local government areas.
Two days later, counsel for the petitioner, Dr. Saka Layoonu, SAN, tendered before the panel, a Certified True Copy of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System report of the election, and election results from three more local government areas in the state.
Adeleke faults Oyetola’s documents
Adeleke’s spokesperson, Rasheed Olawale, had said the tendering of documents by Oyetola was not in any way an indication of any judicial victory.
Olawale further berated the APC for allegedly engaging in a media trial by pretending to be achieving any mileage, when the documents were result sheets signed by the APC agents and the BVAS report.
Adeleke’s team then planned to challenge the documents in their final address.
On November 27, 2022, amid the back and forth, Adeleke was sworn in as the Governor of Osun State.
APC, PDP trade blame over alleged attack
On January 12, 2023, the Osun APC and the PDP traded allegations about plans to attack the venue of the tribunal sitting by some unnamed politicians.
The APC in a statement by its acting chairman, Tajudeen Lawal, however, called for reinforcement of security around the High Court premises where the tribunal was sitting to stop any planned attack.
But the PDP in a counter statement signed by its acting chairman, Dr Adekunle Akindele, declared that it was the APC that planned to attack the tribunal sitting, adding that the party only raised the alarm to shift attention away from it.
Tribunal concludes sitting
Parties before the Justice Tetse Kume-led three-man panel on January 13, adopted their final written addresses.
Arguing their case, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and Mr. Akin Olujinmi, SAN, representing the petitioners, insisted that Adeleke did not win majority lawful votes and should not have been returned as the winner of the poll by INEC.
They also said there were inconsistencies in the certificates presented by Adeleke.
But responding, counsel for INEC, Prof. Paul Ananaba, SAN, that of Adeleke, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, SAN, and Dr. Alex Izinyon, SAN, representing the PDP, said Adeleke was validly elected, as the election that produced him was held in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Constitution.
January 27 was then selected for the delivery of the tribunal judgement.
Tribunal delivers judgement
There was large deployment of security operatives across strategic points in Osogbo, Osun State capital, on Friday, as the Election Petitions Tribunal set to deliver its judgement.
Armed police operatives were observed at the Osun State secretariat of the PDP and that of the APC, as well as the state office of the APC presidential campaign in Osogbo.
The road leading to the premises of the Osun State High Court, where the panel would deliver the judgement was blocked to traffic, thus students, workers and others with business along the route had to trek long distances to their destinations.
Delivering the judgement, the Tribunal annulled the result of the July 16 Osun governorship poll.
Justice Tetsea Kume, while delivering a majority decision, declared that INEC did not comply substantially with the constitution and the provisions of the Electoral Act.
He subsequently deducted the over-voting observed from the votes scored by the candidates and declared that Oyetola won the election, having polled 314, 921, while Adeleke’s score came down to 290, 266.
A furious Adeleke described the judgement of the governorship election petitions tribunal as “a miscarriage of justice”, vowing to challenge the ruling at the Court of Appeal.
Reacting to the verdict of the tribunal from his country home in Ede, Adeleke faulted the resolution of the over-voting question in favour of Oyetola, calling it “an unfair interpretation against the will of majority of voters”
While urging his supporters to remain calm, Adeleke vowed to appeal the judgement at the Court of Appeal, insisting he remained the rightful winner of the July 16 election.