THE legal team of Engr Rauf Aregbesola, Action Congress, AC, gubernatorial candidate in the Osun State election has submitted that Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, PDP, in Osun State â€œrobbedâ€ the people of Osun State of their sovereign right to determine, through elections, the governor of their state.
They made this statement in their final written address and reply to the address of the counsel to Oyinlola and other respondents in the on-going legal battle over the 2007 gubernatorial election in Osun State in which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared Oyinlola as the winner.
The final address of Aregbesolaâ€™s lawyers which runs into more than 100 pages detailing how Oyinlola and the PDP are â€œundeservingâ€ of the â€œvictoryâ€ which the INEC awarded to them, the Action Congress candidateâ€™s lawyers explained why Aregbesola should be declared the â€œvalidly elected governorâ€ of Osun State by the Justice Ali Garba-led Osun State Governorship Elections Petition Tribunal. The claim of Aregbesola to victory against Oyinlola is predicated on the contested results from 10 out of 30 local government areas in the state. The Tribunal has concluded hearing on the matter and is currently considering its judgement which is expected soon.
The legal tussle had earlier been resolved by the Justice Thomas Daman Naron-led tribunal in favour of Oyinlola. However, dissatisfied with the judgement and in the light of media reports of alleged â€œimproperâ€ text message exchanges between the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Naron and the lead counsel of Oyinlola, Otunba Kunle Kalejaiye, SAN, Aregbesola headed for the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal found fundamental problems with the bases of the judgement by the controversial tribunal and ordered the President of the Court of Appeal to constitute another panel to hear the case afresh. The hearing was recently concluded.
In their final submission, Aregbesolaâ€™s lawyers restated that there are two issues for determination before the tribunal. The first is â€œWhether the 1st respondent (Oyinlola) was duly elected as Governor of Osun State in the 14 AprilÂ 2007 gubernatorial election in Osun State in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2006 and the manual for Election, having regard to the totality of the evidence adduced at the trial (both oral and documentary)â€.
The second is â€œWhether from the facts before the Tribunal the Governorship election held in Osun State on the 14th day of April, 2007 was vitiated by any form of irregularities and/or corrupt practices and in the circumstances warranting ordering a fresh election.â€
Says Oyinlola’s victory not based on lawful votes
At the heart of the contention between the two parties, Oyinlola, representing the PDP and Aregbesola, representing the AC, are the results of the elections in 10 local government areas: Atakumosa West Local Government, Ayadaade Local Government, Boluwaduro Local Government, Boripe Local Government, Ife Central Local Government, Ife East Local Government, Ife South Local Government, Ifedayo Local Government, Isokan Local Government, and Odo-Otin Local Government.
While Oyinlolaâ€™s counsels presumed â€œregularity (of the election) in favour of the declared resultsâ€ in favour of their client, Aregbesolaâ€™s legal team insisted that such a presumption has been â€œeffectively rebuttedâ€ by Aregbesola and the Action Congress through â€œcredible oral and documentary evidenceâ€.
The latterâ€™s legal team pointed to Exhibit 91 and Exhibit 92 (1-2) through which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, announced Oyinlola (the 1st Respondent) as having scored a total of 426,669 number of votes against Aregbesolaâ€™s (the 1st Petitionerâ€™s) 240,722 number of votes.
In their final submission to the Justice Garba-led tribunal, the AC candidateâ€™s counsel listed the votes announced by INEC for both Oyinlola and Aregbesola in each of the disputed 10 local governments. The total votes announced in favour of Oyinlola in the 10local government areas are 253, 789 votes, as against 41, 923 votes announced in favour of Aregbesola. Aregbesolaâ€™s lawyers contend that Oyinlolaâ€™s â€œalleged victoryâ€ was â€œnot based on lawful votesâ€.
According to Aregbesolaâ€™s lawyers, what would make a vote to count as lawful vote â€œwould be that there has been valid election conducted in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2006â€. In this Act, the petitioners reminded the Tribunal, while citing relevant decisions of the superior courts, election is defined as â€œa process including, voting, counting, collation and return or declaration of result.â€