• Tells Adeleke:  ‘you can’t go low and buga won’

• Gov, PDP kick, vow to appeal ‘miscarriage of justice’

•Oyetola, Akeredolu, APC, others hail judgment

From Lateef Dada, Osogbo 

Justice Tertsea Aorga Kume-led Osun State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Osogbo yesterday declared that the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Mr Ademola Adeleke as winner of July 16, 2022 governorship election in the state is null and void.

The tribunal held that witnesses called by both the petitioners and respondents admitted over-voting in the election, which affirmed that the election was not in compliance with the law. 

The tribunal held that the total lawful votes of each of the candidates after the deduction of invalid votes are 314,931 for the first petitioner and 290,666 for the 2nd respondent. 

“Exhibit BVR has not been withdrawn by the first respondent who made and issued it. The petitioners relied on exhibit BVR in maintaining this petition.

“Similarly, the exhibit tendered by the respondents after exhibit BVR submitted by learned counsel to the petitioners was after the declaration of the result on the 17th day of July, 2022. 

“The said conduct of the respondents, especially, the first respondent, amounts to tampering with official records. The conduct of the first respondent in the said election under consideration has produced multiple accusation reports,

“The second respondent did not score a majority of lawful votes cast for the election.  His declaration is hereby declared as null and void. The second respondent cannot “go low and buga won” as duly elected governor of Osun state in the election conducted on July 16th, 2022 by singing Kiss Daniel song Buga. 

“In other words, the defences of the respondents are taint with fundamental flaws, irreconcilable and unreliable, incapable of defeating the credible evidence tendered by the petitioners in respect of the 744 polling units where over-voting has been established. 

“The inference we hereby draw from the fact established by the evidence and record is that the election conducted on the 16th day of July 2022 was done in substantial noncompliance with the provisions of the Electoral Acts and extant regulations.

“The second respondent did not score a majority of lawful votes cast for the election. Rather, we hereby hold that the first petitioner scored the majority of lawful votes in the said election and is hereby returned as such. 

“The first respondent is hereby directed to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the second respondent and give the first petitioner Certificate of Return as the duly elected governor,” the judge held.

However, in a dissenting view, Justice Benedict Ogbuli, opposed the judgment, saying the petitioners rushed to obtain the report of BVR and placed their evidence on the report obtained on July 27 and paid for on July 28, 2022.

“I hold that exhibit BVR is a product of inadequacies and cannot be the best evidence for the determination of the accurate number of accredited voters on the 16th July 2022 election. The same is true of exhibit RBVR the best evidence to that regard is RBVL, 1-119 down to RBVL 1-59 used in the polling units under contest and I so hold,” he added. Governor Ademola Adeleke has, however, vowed to challenge the tribunal’s decision at the appellate court, describing the judgment as “a miscarriage of justice.”

A statement by the governor ‘spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, said the judgment is “an unfair interpretation against the will of the majority of voters.”

He urged his supporters to remain calm, noting that he remains the rightful winner of the July 16 election. Former Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, who spoke to newsmen in his hometown in Iragbiji, lauded the judgment and called on members of his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), to celebrate victory according to the law.

Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and governorship candidate of the APC in Oyo State, Senator Teslim Folarin, also hailed the judgment.