The Supreme Court on Tuesday in Abuja affirmed Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the elected Governor of Osun State.
Oyetola and his party, approached the apex court in a suit numbered, SC/CV/510/2023, praying the court to set aside the decision of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, which voided the judgment of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal, which returned Oyetola as winner of the November July 16, 2022 governorship election.
Oyetola and APC in their case filed to Supreme court on behalf by their lead counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), want the apex court to determine whether the appellate court was right “in declaring as nullity the judgment of the tribunal delivered on January 27 notwithstanding the earlier resolution of the same court that Section 294(1) of the Constitution is inapplicable to a tribunal”.
INEC had in 2022 declared Adeleke as winner of the 16 July governorship election having scored a majority of the votes cast in the election. The tribunal in its split judgment of two-to-one delivered in January, held that Oyetola and not Adeleke won a majority of the lawful votes in the election.
Oyetola and his party, approached the three-member tribunal panel to challenge the victory of Adeleke on the ground that there was overvolting
Justice Tertsea Kume led-tribunal, had on January 27, in a split decision of two-to-one, voided the declaration of Adeleke as winner of the governorship election that held on July 16, 2022.
In the majority judgement, the tribunal upheld a petition filed by the former governor of the state, Adegboyega Oyetola of the APC who came second in the election.
It held that Adeleke did not score the majority of lawful votes, adding that the conduct of the election was not in substantial compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.
According to the tribunal, the petitioners, Oyetola and APC, successfully established that there was over voting in 744 polling units in the state.
After deducting the said invalid votes, the tribunal declared Oyetola as winner of the governorship contest and directed the INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return it earlier issued to Adeleke.
However, in his dissenting judgement, the third member of the panel, Justice P. Agbuli, affirmed Adeleke as the valid winner of the election and struck out the petition that was lodged by Oyetola and the APC.
The development triggered the Adeleke and his party, to approach appeal court, prayed the appellate court to set-aside the verdict of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which sacked him from office.
The court, which found Adeleke’s appeal meritorious and allowed it held that the lower tribunal was “wrong to reach the conclusion that there was over-voting during the state governorship election held on 16 July 2022″.
Justice Mohamed Lawal Shuaibu, who prepared and delivered the unanimous judgement held that, “the lower tribunal was wrong to have come to the conclusion of over voting based on the document presented by the first and second respondents (Oyetola and APC) and also on Exhibit BVR, which requires demonstration in public court”.
The Court of Appeal noted that Oyetola and the APC “did not tender the voters’ registers and Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS machines,” which captured data of eligible voters at the Osun governorship election and held that the foundation of what transpired at the polling units would only be established by the evidence that is contained in the voter register and BVAS machines, which are the foundation of any election.
Aside from setting aside the judgement of the lower tribunal, the appellate court awarded N500, 000 cost against the APC and its candidate, Gboyega Oyetola.
Similarly, the court dismissed the cross-appeal filed against the judgment of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal by former Osun Governor and his party
The cross-appeal which centred on the educational qualification of governor Adeleke was thrown out for lacking in merit.