The Osun State governorship election tribunal has declared Senator Ademola Adeleke, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as winner of the governorship election held in September 2018.
A three-man panel sitting in Abuja, the nation’s capital, upheld the petition of the PDP candidate while delivering judgement on Friday.
It was a split decision as two members of the panel ruled in favour of Senator Adeleke and the PDP, while Ibrahim Sirajo, Chairman of the tribunal, delivered the minor judgment in favour of the APC and its candidate, Governor Gboyega Oyetola.
Senator Adeleke and the PDP had approached the tribunal challenging the victory of the governor and the APC in the elections.
He argued that he scored the highest number of votes in the election and should, therefore, be declared as winner.
However, Governor Oyetola and the APC filed a preliminary objection, arguing that Senator Adeleke’s petition lacked merit and that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to entertain such petition.
Justice Sirajo, who delivered the lead judgement on behalf of the panel, dismissed the objection of Governor Oyetola and the APC.
He held that the petitioner had every right to challenge the respondent’s victory, saying the objection was misconstrued.
The tribunal rejected the explanation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the alterations on Forms EC8A were a correction of genuine mistakes.
It held that with the failure of INEC to provide any credible explanation to the alteration, the Forms EC8A in the affected polling units where the election results were disputed “were tampered with” after the conclusion of the initial election.
The panel also concluded that Senator Adeleke and the PDP proved that it was the Returning Officer for the election in the state who cancelled the results of seven polling units in the state.
The tribunal also held that the Returning Officer had no power to cancel election results of a polling unit.
It, therefore, deducted 2,029 votes from the APC and 1,246 votes from that of the PDP in 17 of the polling units where there were issues of non-compliance of the Electoral Act and election guidelines.
The election tribunal also declared the supplementary election, which was conducted on September 27, as illegal, noting that there was no need for such election in the first instance.
By the tribunal’s verdict, Oyetola has been sacked as Osun State Governor.