Two of the three members of Osun election tribunal on Friday nullified the election of incumbent governor of the state, Mr Gboyega Oyetola.
However, a member of the tribunal, Mr Muhammad Surajo, gave a dissenting judgement, disagreeing with major areas of Mr Ademola Adeleke’s request.
Surajo, who chairs the tribunal, directed his court assistants to note the submissions of the majority judgement and regard them as binding.
The panel’s decision followed an application filed by candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Adeleke, who accused Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of colluding with All Progressives Congress (APC) to subvert his victory at the elections.
INEC had declared the Osun State election conducted on September 22, 2018, inconclusive.
At the end of the collation of votes in that first election, Adeleke won majority votes of 254,698, while Oyetola of APC came a close second with 254,345 votes. Both leading candidates had a difference of about 354 votes.
Declaring the election inconclusive, INEC’s presiding officer, Mr Joseph Fuwape, said it was impossible to name an outright winner without organising a rerun.
“Unfortunately as the returning officer, it’s not possible to declare anybody as the clear winner of the election on the first ballot,” Fuwape, Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Technology, Akure, said.
He explained that the total registered voters in the polling units where elections were cancelled is 3,498 votes.
Since that figure was higher than the difference between the votes of the leading candidates, a rerun election had to be conducted, the INEC chief explained.
Following that declaration, INEC conducted a rerun election on September 27, 2018, in seven polling units.
APC candidate, Oyetola, was declared winner of the supplementary election in six of the seven polling units amidst widespread voter intimidation and other electoral irregularities.
At the end of the tally of votes for the September 27 elections, APC candidate scored a total of 255,505 votes while PDP candidate scored 255,023 votes.
Subsequently, While Adeleke emerged winner in the September 22 elections with a margin of 354 votes, Oyetola defeated PDP candidate with 482 votes at the end of the supplementary election.
Adeleke and his party who had rejected the move for a supplementary election accused INEC of partisanship and alleged that the commission violated provisions of the law by organising the rerun.
Adeleke’s lawyers, led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, also accused INEC of allowing APC to manipulate voting figures in their favour.
In their ruling, the two other members of the panel, Peter Obiora and Adegboye Gbolagunte, agreed with submissions of Ikpeazu that the petitioners succeeded in proving that there was substantial non-compliance with provisions of the law in 17 polling units.
The panel also agreed with PDP and Adeleke that the INEC officer who had announced the cancellation of results had no power to do so.
The two panellists, however, rejected the application of PDP relating to over-voting.
According to the tribunal, the petitioner failed to prove the allegation of over-voting.
“The petitioner (Mr Adeleke) having fulfilled the constitutional requirements and scored the majority lawful vote is declared winner and returned as governor.
“The rerun in the seven cancelled units are hereby declared null and void and of no electoral effect.”
The tribunal ordered the withdrawal of certificate of return issued to Oyetola and directed that a new certificate of return be issued to Adeleke.
In a dissenting judgement, however, Surajo said the evidence brought forward by PDP was not sufficient to prove allegation of non-compliance.
He also ruled that INEC was right in its decision to conduct a rerun.