The Supreme Court of Nigeria, on Tuesday, affirmed Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the validly elected Governor of Osun State.
The apex court, in its lead judgement, delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, dismissed the appeal that was lodged against Adeleke’s election victory by the former governor of the state, Adegboyega Oyetola, who was the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Agim held that though Oyetola alleged that Adeleke won through over-voting that occurred in 774 polling units in the state, he, however, failed to produce any Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS, a machine that was used in any of the polling units to prove his allegation.
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“It is glaring that the Appellant did not provide in evidence, any BVAS, but sought to prove over-voting using a report of examination of INEC’s database or backend server.”
The apex court held that since it was not disputed that the BVAS contained a record of accredited voters, “it is, therefore, the only direct and primary record of voters accredited at polling units on election day”.
It held that nothing in either Section 47 of the Electoral Act 2022 or Regulations 18- 23 of the INEC’s Regulations made it mandatory for Presiding Officers in an election to transmit by BVAS the number of accredited voters in each polling unit to the backend server.
It dismissed evidence of purported expert witnesses that testified in Oyeyola’s favour.
The apex court said it found no reason to set aside the verdict of the Court of Appeal, which upheld Adeleke’s election victory.
It will be recalled that the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had, on January 27, in a split decision, voided the declaration of Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the winner of the gubernatorial election.
The Justice Tertsea Kume-led three-member panel tribunal, in its majority verdict, upheld a petition that was brought before it by the former governor of the state, Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, 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 overvoting in 744 polling units in the state.
After deducting the invalid votes, the tribunal declared Oyetola as the winner of the governorship contest, even as it directed the INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return it had earlier issued to Adeleke.
However, in his dissenting judgement, the third member of the panel, Justice P. Ogbuli, affirmed Adeleke as the valid election winner, even as he struck out the petition that Oyetola and the APC lodged.
Meanwhile, following an appeal that was lodged by Adeleke and the PDP, the Court of Appeal, on March 24, reversed the judgment of the tribunal.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of Justices, held that there was merit in Adeleke’s appeal.
Aside from setting aside the judgement of the tribunal, the court, in its lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu, awarded a cost of N500, 000 against the APC and its candidate, Gboyega Oyetola.
Dissatisfied with the judgement, both Oyetola and the APC took the matter before the Supreme Court where they also lost on Tuesday.