By Andrew Onyejuruuwa
From all indications, the malpractices that immersed the just concluded elections in Nigeria, the supposed biggest democracy in Africa are beginning to unfold as the Osun State governorship election Petition Tribunal has declared Mr. Ademola Adeleke as winner of the 2018 governorship election in Osun state.
During the tribunal’s sitting in Abuja on Friday, the tribunal held that the rerun election conducted in the state after the initial poll was illegal. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the September election. But the PDP and Adeleke filed a petition at the tribunal, challenging Oyetola’s victory.
A three-man panel of the tribunal led by Ibrahim Sirajo, held that Oyetola was not validly returned as the winner of the election. The tribunal ruled that the rerun which finally produced Oyetola as winner was the outcome of the “illegal” cancellation of results in some of the polling units during the main election. It held that the returning officer lacked the power to cancel the votes in affected polling units.
It earlier dismissed a preliminary objection filed by Oyetola, APC and INEC challenging Adeleke’s petition. The three defendants claimed in the objection that the petition was incompetent and the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to hear it. But the three-man panel ruled that while the petition was competent, the tribunal also has powers to hear it. The panel asked INEC to issue a fresh certificate of return to Adeleke and withdraw the one given to Oyetola.
As at press time both the embattled INEC and the APC were yet to react to the ruling but the ruling party in Osun has the option of challenging the ruling at the appeal court and even the supreme court.The ruling of the tribunal on rerun election was delivered 24 hours ahead of supplementary elections in five states.