The Osun Governorship Election Petition Tribunal hearing the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the August 9 governorship election in Osun, Senator Iyiola Omisore on Friday returned the governor of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as the lawful winner of the governorship election in the state.
The tribunal led by the chairman, Justice Elizabeth Ikpejieme in a judgment of over seven hours held that the petitioner failed to prove his case by providing credible evidence.
The PDP candidate is challenging the election before the panel in some units and wards in 17 local government councils of the state.
Omisore and his party, PDP, alleged that the August 9 governorship election was characterised by irregularities and manipulation in favour of APC and Aregbesola, thus asking the tribunal to cancel the election results in the affected local government councils.
He is also praying the tribunal to declare him the winner of the election, saying he had the majority lawful votes, stressing that the votes cast for Aregbesola and APC were not lawful, therefore, should be nullified.
The Chairman of the tribunal in her judgment on the eligibility of the petition ruled that the appellant failed when it did not file his reply within the five days stipulated under the law.
The tribunal held that the five days the appellant had commenced on the day they were served on the 9th of October, 2014 lapsed on the 13th of October, saying the days under the law included Sunday which the appellant tried to exclude from the five days.
She pointed out that the Appellant having filed the reply on 14th October fell foul of the law, noting that the law is settled when it stated the method and dates to follow in filling reply.
On the issue of the Appellant abandoning their case, the tribunal noted that for the purpose of fair hearing, the tribunal will go on in delivering its judgment on the substantive case.
Delivering judgment on the substantive suit, the tribunal said “nobody came to the tribunal to testify that they have not been able to vote and that those not accredited were not allowed to vote. The appellants have not shown how many of their supporters were refused accreditation.
“The non-stamping of Form ECA8, our attention has not been drawn to the need that duplicates have to be signed but it was confirmed that only the original white copies were signed and that the stamp may not even appear on the carbon copies. How has the non-stamping of duplicate copies affect the result of the election?
“On multiple voting, the forensic expert of the petitioner showed that the ballot papers were accordingly used. He did not testify that he encountered any multiple voting. Without analysing the ballot paper, there can’t be the issue of multiple voting. His examination also does not show any over voting”. The tribunal noted
On allegation of using O’Yes as Independent National Election Commission (INEC) officials, the tribunal stressed that there is no such evidence on record as what they have are two O’Yes members who testified as agents and not INEC officials.
The tribunal also held that the evidence led by the petitioners in Ayedaade Local Government lacks any degree of specificity and cannot be relied on by the tribunal as they failed completely to prove any of the allegations.
On Atakunmosa East, the tribunal chairman noted that apart from abandonment of pleading, the testimony of the witness there is unreliable and cannot be relied upon.
She said, “We do not know how testimony of a single witness can aggregate all the contested polling units in the local government.
“In Boripe Local Government, the Petitioners called only one witness in respect of 23 units and clearly abandoned his pleadings in all other units. The witness is not a polling agent and not competent to give evidence on what was going on in the unit”.
The tribunal noted that the evidence given In Ede South is hearsay and the petitioners failed to lead credible witness, adding that the Petitioners made allegations in 47 Polling units in 10wards, but called Prosecution Witness 30, a wards supervisor for Ward 2 which contains 3 units thereby abandoning 44 polling units.
On Ejigbo Local Government, the tribunal said, “The Petitioners made allegations in 58 Polling Units in 9 wards and called 3 witnesses PW 26, 27 and 28. Apart from abandonment of pleading in 55 Polling units , the witnesses called by the petitioners is of no assistance to the Petitioners. Their testimonies were not credible”.
The tribunal pointed out in its judgment that the PDP and its candidate, Iyiola omisore failed woefully to prove it’s case in the 17 local governments being challenged, noting that the petition lacks diligent prosecution and substantial evidence.
The chairman held that, for the petitioner not to have satisfactorily proved his case in any of the 17 local governments, the panel has no reason to void the election.
The tribunal therefore returned Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola the duly elected governor in the August 9 election and dismissed the case of the petitioner.