WHY VERDICT ON OSUN CANNOT STAND- AREGBESOLA

Former Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola has described the judgment of the Election Petition Tribunal last Friday, which nullified the election of Governor Gboyega Oyetola as very strange and unknown to law.

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Aregbesola, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Mr. Sola Fasure, said the report of the split judgment came to every watcher of political events in the state as a rude shock.

In the statement entitled: “This judgment cannot stand,” the former governor said the people of the state and the government have the highest regards for the judiciary and would keep having high regards for the revered institution.

Aregbesola, however, regretted that the tribunal’s majority judgment was strange to law and common sense.

He said the majority judgment, as delivered by their Lordship, did not support the cause of electoral justice and might constitute the death knell for properly conducted elections.

Aregbesola said the people rejected the majority judgment and believe that it would not stand scrutiny at the appellate court.

The statement noted that the majority judgment, which held that the rerun election conducted in seven polling units on the September 27, 2018, was illegal, null and void, was equally shocking and amounts to a travesty of justice.

He said the government would appeal the judgment, adding that the verdict would be upturned.

The former governor wondered why elections in 17 polling would be annulled when there was no evidence of any act known to render them null and void in an election petition such as over-voting, non-accreditation, ballot box stuffing among others.

Aregbesola contended that concern for substantive justice should have dictated that since the results from the 17 units were duly signed and adjudged by INEC to be authentic, there should not have been any controversy over there validity.

He lamented that the tribunal has effectively disenfranchised the legitimate voters in the 17 polling units and rendered the election undemocratic.

The statement said: “In nullifying the elections in the 17 polling units, the majority judgment predicated it on what is regarded as ‘substantial non-compliance’ with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010. The said non-compliance, according to the judgment, borders on the failure of INEC’s appointed presiding officers to record accreditation and ballot accounting on the result forms in the 17 polling units.

“There was no evidence of any act known to render election null and void in an election petition such as over voting, non-accreditation, ballot box stuffing etc.

“This much was highlighted in the dissenting judgment of the Chairman of the Tribunal in disagreeing with the majority decision.