By Clifford Ndujihe
TODAY is the D-Day. The governorship electoral battle that started on September 22, 2018 will be concluded today at the Supreme Court.
So far, four victories have been got with the two contenders – Governor Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC; and Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, having two apiece. Oyetola-Adeleke In the first election on September 22, Adeleke, the PDP candidate, scored 254,698 votes to beat Oyetola, the candidate of the APC, who polled 254,345 votes. However, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared the poll inconclusive. It said Adeleke could not be declared the winner because the number of votes cancelled – 3,498, was higher than 353 by which he defeated Oyetola. A supplementary election was held on September 27 after which Oyetola polled 255,505 votes to beat Adeleke, who got 255,023 votes. Adeleke challenged Oyetola’s victory at the tribunal. And on March 22, 2019, the three-man Osun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja by a split decision of two-to-one, declared Adeleke as the winner the 2018 governorship election in the state. It held that Oyetola was not validly returned as winner by the INEC. Oyetola like Adeleke, kicked against the tribunal’s decision and headed for the Court of Appeal, which on May 9, 2019, ruled in his favour. The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal nullified the judgment of Osun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which upturned Governor Oyetola’s victory. The appelate court, in a four-to-one split decision of its five-man panel, led by Justice Jummai Sankey, nullified the majority verdict of the tribunal, which gave victory to Adeleke.
The Court of Appeal upheld Oyetola’s victory at the poll in three judgments delivered on separate appeals filed by the governor; his party (the APC); and the INEC challenging the tribunal’s verdict. Justice Sankey, along with three other members of the panel, Justices Abubakar Yahaya, Isaiah Akeju, and Bitrus Sanga, adopted the majority judgments on the three appeals, which went in favour of the APC and its candidate. However, a member of the panel, Justice George Mbaba, dissented from the majority judgments on the three appeals. He dismissed the three appeals and upheld the majority judgment of the tribunal which declared Adeleke the winner of the poll. As expected, Adeleke headed for the Supreme Court, which decision is expected today. Meanwhile the PDP has expressed confidence that its candidate, Senator Adeleke will be declared winner today. Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Diran Odeyemi, said d that their party is hopeful of justice, adding that the party has a good chance of doing a victory dance He said: “We are hopeful that justice will be dispensed in our favour. We have presented a good case and established how we were rigged out by the APC and we believe in the judiciary for an unbiased judgement. We are hopeful, the people of Osun State are hopeful too as they are yearning for Senator Ademola Adeleke as their governor.”