Immediate past governor of Osun, Mr Rauf Aregbesola on Thursday described the judgement of Osun election petition tribunal last Friday which nullified the election of Governor Gboyega Oyetola as very strange and unknown to law.
Aregbesola, in a statement by his media adviser, Mr. Sola Fasure, said the report of the split judgement came to every watcher of political events in the state as a rude shock.
According to the statement which was forwarded to the Nigerian Tribune in Osogbo, the former governor said the people of the state and the government have the highest regards for the judiciary and will continue to have high regards for the revered institution but regretted to state that the decision of the majority judgement was strange to law and common sense.
Aregbesola said the majority judgment, as delivered by their Lordship, did not support the cause of electoral justice and may constitute the death knell for properly conducted elections, stressing that the people rejected the majority judgment with the belief that it will not stand scrutiny at the appellate court.
The statement read: “the report of the split judgement of the Osun election petition tribunal last Friday which nullified the election of Governor Gboyega Oyetola came to us as a rude shock. We wondered why elections in 17 polling would be annulled when there was no evidence of any act known to render election null and void in an election petition such as over voting, non-accreditation, ballot box stuffing etc took place.”
“We have the highest regards for the judiciary and we will continue to have high regards for the revered institution. However, we regret to note that the decisions in the majority judgement, as can be seen from our subsequent observations, is strange to law and common sense.”
“It certainly does not support the cause of electoral justice and may constitute the death knell for properly conducted elections. Therefore, with all sense of responsibility, we reject the majority judgment and believe that it will not stand scrutiny at the appellate court.”
“Two of the three judges on the panel in the majority judgment nullified elections in 17 polling units, and proceeded to calculate election results on their own to declare Senator Ademola Nurudeen Adeleke of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the elections conducted in September 2018. The two judges also cancelled the supplementary election held on September 27, 2018 and awarded victory to the PDP candidate.”
In nullifying the elections in the 17 polling units, the majority judgment predicated it on what is regarded as “substantial non-compliance” with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010. The said non-compliance, according to the judgment, borders on the failure of INEC’s appointed presiding officers to record accreditation and ballot accounting on the result forms in the 17 polling units.
“There was no evidence of any act known to render election null and void in an election petition such as over voting, non-accreditation, ballot box stuffing etc. This much was highlighted in the dissenting judgment of the chairman of the tribunal in disagreeing with the majority decision. It is interesting to note that there are 3,010 polling units in Osun State.
Aside the seven units where supplementary election were ordered due to the margin of lead principles (derived from sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act (2010) as well as INEC regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections), elections were concluded and results announced accordingly.”
“It is general knowledge in that elections are not nullified based on non-compliance alone. A petitioner who alleges non-compliance with the provisions of this Electoral Act must clearly establish by evidence that the non-compliance has affected the result of the election. The petitioner must not only show substantial non-compliance but also the figures that the non-compliance attracted or omitted. Surprisingly, this was not the case in respect of the Osun election tribunal,” Aregbesola asserted.
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