By Stephen Ubanna
Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu , a former governor of Lagos state and National leader of the All Progressive Congress, APC, appears to have gone back to his political drawing board to know what went wrong in the September, 2018,Osun gubernatorial election that has necessitated the order handed down to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, by the three-man election Tribunal in the state to withdraw the certificate of return given to Gboyega Oyetola of the APC, as the governor of the state.
Members of the Tribunal are Justices Ibrahim Sirajo, Peter Obiora and Ayinla Gbolagunte.
The Value News learnt that Oyetola and the APC leadership , in the state , with the support of Tinubu, the godfather, in the southwest, has rejected the Tribunal verdict , which had declared Isiaka Adeleke, a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the governor elect of the state. The governor and the APC, were said to assembled a powerful legal team made up of eminent Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, to appeal against the Tribunal Judgment. Wole Onyebamiji, Secretary to the state government, was said to have informed the people of the state that the Judgment of the Tribunal has been put on appeal, assuring the people that ”justice will prevail at last”.
Many expect the legal battle to terminate at the Supreme Court presided over by Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, to replace Justice Walter Onnoghen, who is on suspension over allegations of false declaration of Assets and Corrupt enrichment.
Recall that Adeleke and the PDP leadership in the state had raised alarm after the conduct of the election on Saturday, September 22, 2018, that the mandate freely given to him by the people have be stolen by the APC, using Federal might. He has vowed to reclaim his stolen mandate in Court.
As a prelude to reclaiming the mandate , he has assembled a powerful legal team armed with the necessary documentary evidence to prove that the election was manipulated to approach the Election Tribunal. The direction of the case the case may have forced Justice Mohammed, the acting CJN, to relocate the Tribunal sitting from Osogho, the state capital to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. This may have been done to avoid a breakdown of law and order in the state when the Tribunal eventually concludes its sitting to give judgment
In given its ruling at Abuja, the Tribunal had dismissed a preliminary objection filed by Oyetola, the APC and INEC, against the petition of Adeleke, the PDP, Candidate, challenging the outcome of the last governorship election in the state.
The governor, APC and INEC, had had raised in their objection that the petition of Adeleke and the PDP, was incompetent and that that the Tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case. The argument of the Oyetola legal team may have been kept aside as Obiora, who is a member of the three-man Tribunal declared that the Tribunal was competent and the petition waswithin their mandate to hear and determine it. The governor, APC and INEC, may have appealed to prove a point that that the election was not manipulated as alleged by the PDPD and its Candidate.
Based on the overwhelming documentary evidence before them, the Tribunal had declared Adeleke, the PDP , Candidate , as the winner of the governorship election in Osun state and has subsequently ordered the Commission to quickly withdraw the certificate of return that had already been issued to Oyetola, the APC Candidate and a fresh one issued to Senator Adeleke , as the duly elected governor of the state. The Tribunal had declared that the PDP Candidate has fulfilled all the electoral requirements. It averred that that Senator Adeleke of the PDP scored the lawful majority votes at the governorship election noting that the rerun ordered by the electoral umpire in seven units in the southwest state was uncalled for. it was therefore not very surprising that it declared the election as” null and void”.
Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, the Chairman of the Tribunal may not have allied himself to the decision of Justices Obiora and Gbolagunte on the case, insisting that that the petitioner has not really proved that there was substantial non-compliance with the country’s electoral Act in the election. He had agreed with the Oyetola and the APC Lawyers that that the Tribunal, under section 140 (3) of the Electoral Act , lacks the powers to declare a winner where such was proved.
the Justice insisted that that the much the Tribunal could do was to order INEC to hold a Supplementary or fresh election in the state and not to declare a winner. But the duo, Justice Obiora and Ayinla, were said to have entered into a majority judgment in favour of the PDP Candidate, thus turning Justice Sirajo judgment into a minority one.
The Osun Election Tribunal judgment may have given the direction of the Judgments of the Tribunals in other states where the Saturday, February 23, Presidential and National Assembly as well as the Saturday, March 9, governorship and states Assembly election was allegedly rigged.
The jubilation in the state since information filtered out that Adeleke, of the PDPD , has been declared the winner of the September 22, 2018 , governorship in the state clearly shows that the people never voted for the APC, Candidate. A Resident of Osogbo, the state Capital said both not for the deployment of policemen in major flashpoint areas in the state, there would have been a breakdown of law and order in the state despite appeal by the Oyetola, the state governor for the people to remain calm. Looking unperturbed at the Tribunal judgment , Oyetola, the state governor said the APC government i remain the only legitimat Authority to govern Osun, a signal to Adeleke, that there is no vacancy in the Government House for now.
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