By Gbenga OLARINOYEI, Osogbo
The Osun State Elections Petitions Retrial Tribunal yesterday upheld the election of Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and dismissed the petition filed by the Action Congress (AC) Governorship Candidate in the April 14 2007 general election, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola.
Aregbesola had earlier lost his petition in an unanimous judgment by Justice Thomas Naron- led tribunal before the Appeal Court in Ibadan ordered a retrial ofÂ his petition.
The Chairman of the five member tribunal, Justice Garba Alli in a unanimous judgment which lasted three hours declared that the petition of Mr. Aregbesola lacks enough evidences and proofs to upturn the victory of Governor Oyinlola at the poll.
In an earlier judgment by the same tribunal, the AC House of Representatives candidate, Engr. Lasun Yusuf also lost his petition against Chief Leo Awoyemi of the PDP.
Justice Alli held that Aregbesola failed to substantiate his allegations with concrete evidence, adding that all allegations raised in the petition filed by Aregbesola were not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Aregbesola in his petition argued that the April 14, 2007 election that brought Oyinlola into power was characterised with violence, rigging and electoral irregularities, and thereby urged the tribunal to cancel the election in 10 Local Government Areas of the state.
Also joined in the suit were the state Deputy Governor, Erelu Olusola Obada, the state chapter of the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police.
Aregbesola who claimed to have won majority of lawful votes in the 10Â Local Government Areas, argued that Oyinlola did not win majority of lawful votes in the affected Local Government Areas as announced by the INEC.
The Local Government Areas where Aregbesola challenged the election conducted there were Ife South, Ife East, Ife Central, Ayedaade, Atakumosa West, Boripe, Ifedayo, Ila, Odo-Otin and Boluwaduro.
The tribunal Chairman, Justice Alli declared that all evidences presented before the tribunal by Aregbesola were mere allegations which could not be proved, thus, dismissing his peition for lack of merit and proofs.
In his comments, the lead counsel to Governor Oyinlola, Chief Adebayo Adenipekun (SAN) thanked the tribunal for the painstaking efforts put into the judgment, and expressed the satisfaction of his client with the judgment, saying the judgment was well and thoughtfully delivered.
But the Lead Counsel to Aregbesola, Mr Charles Edosomwan (SAN) said his client would appeal against the judgment as he was not satisfied with the tribunal judgment.
â€œWe are highly dissapointed with the judgment delivered by the tribunal. We are not satisfied with it at all and we are going to make our dissatisfaction known by appealing against the judgment. The battle to reclaim the mandate which the people of Osun state gave freely to Engr. Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola will continue because we still have confidence in the judiciary despite this judgment,â€ he said.
The state Attorny General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Niyi Owolade who represented the Nigeria Police and INEC at the tribunal also expressed satisfaction with the judgment, saying â€œthe tribunal has given a decent burial to the petition of Aregbesola, and that must have told the opposition that Governor Oyinlola was well voted for as the Governor of Osun state on 14th April, 2007.â€
Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola has dedicated his victory at the election petition tribunal to God just as he has advised the opposition to stop fighting against Godâ€™s decision.
Prince Oyinlola in his reaction to the verdict of the tribunal which dismissed the petition of the Action Congress candidate, Rauf Aregbesola said the decision of the tribunal was a divine vindication of the genuineness of his victory at the 2007 elections.
Prince Oyinlola said he was full of gratitude to God and Nigerians all over the country for their solidarity with him while the battle lasted saying that he remained committed to the ideals of democracy and good governance.
On the statement of Aregbesolaâ€™s lawyer, Charles Edosonwon, SAN that his client would appeal the judgment, Prince Oyinlola declared that his own team was ready for the AC candidate stressing that he defeated them before and would do so again.
He also advised the opposition to take the verdict as that of God declaring that appealing against the judgment would be tantamount to appealing against Godâ€™s decision.