BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
Since the July 16 governorship election in Osun State was held and a winner emerged, the political atmosphere in the state is still tense. Governor Gboyega Oyetola, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, has refused to accept his defeat, claiming over-voting among other alleged irregularities during the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Ademola Adeleke, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party as the winner of the election and pronounced him Governor-elect.
Adeleke secured 403,371 votes to defeat Oyetola, who polled 375,027.
Despite the margin, Oyetola is challenging the outcome of the poll at the petition tribunal.
In a petition dated August 5, Oyetola asked the court to nullify Adeleke’s election because he was not qualified to contest and that he was not elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast. He also alleged over-voting at 749 polling units across 10 local government areas where the election was held.
In the suit, Oyetola is the first petitioner while the APC is the second petitioner. INEC, Adeleke and the PDP are first, second and third respondents respectively.
Oyetola said the second respondent forged the certificates submitted to INEC and did not comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“The Petitioners hereby plead and shall rely on Form EC8D (being the summary of collation of results) and Form EC8E (being the declaration of result) issued by the 1st Respondent, not only to show the recorded scores but also to demonstrate the invalidity of the scores recorded thereon,” the petition reads.
“The Petitioners plead and shall also rely on the Reports and evidence by their Experts, including Statisticians, Forensic Examiners and other witnesses, as well as the Report of Inspection and Production of Materials granted to the Petitioners by this Honourable Tribunal.
“The 2nd Respondent was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election. The Petitioners aver that the 2nd Respondent did not possess the educational qualification to contest the election to the office of Governor of Osun State held on Saturday, 16th July 2022 conducted by the 1st Respondent.
“The Petitioners contend that the 2nd Respondent was, at the material time, not qualified to contest election to the office of the Governor of Osun State for having presented forged certificates to the 1st Respondent. The Petitioners say that the Diploma Certificate of Penn Foster High School purportedly awarded on the 16th day of July, 2021 and submitted by the 2nd Respondent along with his Form EC9 to the 1st Respondent, was forged.
“The Petitioners further say that the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice purportedly awarded by Atlanta Metropolitan State College and submitted by the 2nd Respondent along with his Form EC9 to the 1st Respondent, was forged. The Petitioners further plead that the 2nd Respondent had also previously in 2018 submitted a forged certificate to the 1st Respondent herein along with his Form C.F.001.
“The Petitioners say that in an attempt to meet the educational qualification required to contest the governorship election in Osun State scheduled for the 16th day of July, 2022, the 2nd Respondent submitted to the 1st Respondent a Form EC 9 – Affidavit in Support of Personal Particulars – whereof in Column C which required him to state the schools he attended beginning with Primary School and educational qualifications with dates, he indicated that he attended Muslim Grammar Sch. Ede between 1976 – 1981 without stating what qualification he obtained, if any, from that School.
“The 2nd Respondent did not indicate which Primary School he attended, if any, and what qualifications, if any, he obtained therefrom. In the said Form EC 9, the 2nd Respondent indicated that he attended Penn Foster High School whereat he purportedly obtained a High School Diploma in 2021; the 2nd Respondent also indicated in the said Column C of his form EC9 – Affidavit in Support of Personal Particulars – that he obtained B.Sc. in Criminal Justice from Atlanta Metropolitan State College in 2021. The Petitioners shall rely on a certified true copy of the said Form EC 9 – Affidavit in Support of Personal Particulars – filled and submitted by the 2nd Respondent to the 1st Respondent.”
Other issues Oyetola presented before the Tribunal were that the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System was not used appropriately and that there were more voters than BVAS accredited.
“Our case before the Tribunal is simple. Sections 47(2) of the Electoral Act says that to vote, the presiding officer shall use the smart card reader or any other technological device that may be prescribed by the commission for the accreditation of voters to “verify, authenticate the intending voter in the manner prescribed by the commission.”
“For the purpose of the Osun election, INEC had prescribed the BVAS (Bimodal Voters Accreditation System) as the only credible means of accreditation. But from the report we got from the field, in many of the polling units, BVAS was not used appropriately. It didn’t capture the number of accredited voters. But we did not rely mainly on the report we got from our polling agents. We also demanded by law for a CTC of the report of BVAS from INEC, and we got it.
“The CTC of the report of BVAS across 10 Local Governments (Ede North, Ede South, Egbedore, Ejigbo, Ila, Ilesa West, Irepodun, Obokun, Olorunda, Osogbo) in 749 polling units showed that accreditation through BVAS was less than the number of votes cast in those units.
“By implication, there were more voters than accredited by the BVAS. Let me give a few examples to drive home my point. In Ede-North ward 5, Alusekere Unit 004, Owode Primary School, where the governor-elect comes from, the total votes cast for that unit was 1,267 but BVAS recorded only 858 as accredited voters.
“Again, in Ward 5 unit 14, 206 numbers of votes were recorded for parties against 118 accredited through BVAS. In Unit 15 of the same ward 5 Alusekere, 177 votes were recorded in Form EC8A while the BVAS report says 108 voters were accredited. So, consistently, there were more voters than BVAS accredited, and those are our issues with the Election Results as declared by INEC.
“Make no mistake, our case is not in any way an attempt to impugn on the integrity of INEC. Far from it. It is to further deepen our electoral system and to help INEC correct whatever anomalies arising from the Osun Governorship Election ahead of the 2023 elections. Most of the reforms we have today were borne out of the decisions of the court. Our observations may as well be part of them,” the Chief Press Secretary to Oyetola, Ismail Omipidan, had said.
“From the analysis on the BVAS machine itself and the Form EC8A which are the primary source as against BVAS report which is secondary, real over-voting occurred in only six polling units, submitting that if the votes in those six polling units are cancelled, PDP’s score will be 402,000 plus while the APC’s will be 374,000”
In response to these claims, Adeleke said the claim of over-voting in 750 polling units was created by the incomplete data of BVAS based on the unsynchronised BVAS report that was used by the petitioners.
Adeleke further affirmed that the alleged over-voting by the petitioners did not represent what was contained on the BVAS machine and the Forms EC8A.
Speaking through his spokesperson, Rasheed Olawale, the governor-elect in his defence filed before the Tribunal, he dismissed Oyetola’s claims and explained that there were two aspects to the defence with respect to APC’s claim of over-voting, noting that first aspect was that there was over-voting in 750 polling units.
He added that “the over-voting was created by the incomplete data of BVAS based on the unsynchronised BVAS report. This does not represent what is on the BVAS machine itself and the Forms EC8A. The correct result is as captured in the synchronised BVAS report which tallies with the data on the BVAS MACHINE itself”.
“The defence also affirmed further that even if the false over-voting in the unsynchronised BVAS report is unlikely admitted, the PDP will still be leading if votes from the affected six polling units are removed, adding that “Tribunal will never rely on the unsynchronised BVAS report because is at variance with what is contained on the BVAS machine itself.
“The statement while clarifying that the digital footprint of the BVAS machine is verifiable, submitting that both Governor-elect and INEC have put the BVAS machines itself before the Tribunal for examination.
“The statement further noted that from the analysis on the BVAS machine itself and the Form EC8A which are the primary source as against BVAS report which is secondary, real over-voting occurred in only six polling units, submitting that if the votes in those six polling units are cancelled, PDP’s score will be 402,000 plus while the APC’s will be 374,000.”
Meanwhile, the parties had been trading accusations over plots to plunge the state into chaos as the tribunal commences its hearing today (Monday).
While the APC chairman, Gboyega Famodun, alleged that the PDP had stockpiled guns and petrol for large mayhem over the petition and forthcoming local government election in the state, the PDP Caretaker Chairman countered it, saying that the APC was plotting to attack Osogbo INEC office to destroy BVAS machines used during the governorship poll.
In the midst of the bickering, Oyetola, through his counsels urged the Court of Appeal to move the tribunal sitting to Abuja and cited insecurity in the state. But, the court rejected the request, saying the security agencies had assured readiness to forestall any attack during the sittings.
However, a civil society organisation, The Osun Masterminds, has asked the leadership of the two major political parties in the state to stop engaging in the spread of untrue information about the petition before the election petition tribunal.
The Executive Director of the group, Wasiu Oyedokun-Alli, stated that the action of supporters of the two parties amounted to subjudice and called on their leaders to prevail on them before they cause unrest with false information they are spreading across the state.
“Supporters of the two major parties to the petition before the tribunal – the People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress – have gone about town misleading and misinforming unsuspecting members of the public with information about the goings-on at the Tribunal that is not just false, but is also subjudice.
“Parties are therefore counselled to allow the Tribunal to do its job without the reckless misinformation going on social media. We must also advise parties to the petition, to rein in their party members and ensure that while the brickbats go on at the tribunal, there is no breakdown of law and order within the society,” Oyedokun-Alli said.
Meanwhile, political analysts have said what appeared like a “more source of worry” for Adeleke is the insistence of a governorship aspirant of the PDP, Dotun Babayemi, to approach the Supreme Court for nullification of Adeleke as the candidate of the party for the poll.
They said should Babayemi have his way in the court, it may scuttle the chances of Adeleke to govern the state.
Babayemi was expelled by the party in the state for alleged anti-party activities, but the decision was reversed by a court in the state.
In an interview with The Point, the PDP Caretaker Chairman, Adekunle said, “as far as the party is concerned, Dotun Babayemi has been expelled from the PDP. He is no longer a member of the party and we cannot refer to him or answer any question relating to him. As it stands today, he is no longer a member of the PDP. Senator Ademola Adeleke is taking over governance in Osun on November 27 and I can assure you that nothing can stop his tenure.”