All things being equal, judgment will be given today in the titanic post-election tribunal battle between Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Senator Iyiola Omisore of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) on the governorship of Osun State. The swing of judgment will be a very bitter pill for the losing party.
By Gbenga Olarinoye
Tension has been rising among supporters of the APC and the PDP since the adoption of final written addresses by their counsels before the election petition tribunal that heard the petition filed by Omisore after the August 9, 2014 governorship poll.
Aregbesola, the incumbent at the time of the election had been returned by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC., but the PDP candidate rejected the result and petitioned the panel seeking to be declared the winner of the poll based on alleged irregularities in the compilation of votes for the APC candidate.
During the adoption of written addresses, when the curtain on the hearings came to an end, the interesting phrase “assuming without conceding” generated heated arguments between counsels representing the parties. The assertion by the counsel to the first respondent, that is Aregbesola was perhaps to imply that whatever arguments put forward by Omisore’s counsel still would not have given the PDP candidate enough votes to be declared the winner of the poll.
Before the Justice Elizabeth Ekpejime-led tribunal took over the matter, a panel earlier set up to hear Omisore’s petition was disbanded following a petition written by the candidate of Accord in the poll, Mr. Yemi Owolade.
After the adoption of final addresses by the parties on January 23, 2015, Justice Ekpejime reserved judgement indefinitely.
She said that the date of the judgement will be communicated to the parties.
Commenting on the issues raised in their final addresses, counsel to the first respondent, Aregbesola, second and third respondents respectively, APC and INEC, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi, SAN, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, and Ayo Ogunleye, posited that Omisore’s petition should be dismissed because it was filed out of time.
In their separate remarks, they also insisted that the petitioner did not call witnesses in respect of 116 out of 142 wards being challenged in the petition.
Challenging of results
They further explained that PDP challenged results in 939 polling units but did not call evidence on 709 polling units, stressing that “they have abandoned their case in respect of 709 polling units. Even, if they had called evidence in all the units, the first respondent would still have won convincingly with majority lawful votes”.
However, expatiating on the issues in his final address, counsel to the petitioner, Alex Izinyon argued that Omisore should be declared winner of the governorship election, having polled majority of lawful votes.
According to him Aregbesola had admitted on page six of his final address that the figure allocated to him by INEC after the poll was wrong, going by the table indicating the results provided in the address.
Izinyon said: “The total votes, remaining for the APC after deduction is 234, 971. This is an admission from the 1st respondent, which is different from the INEC result, indicating that APC got 394,684 votes. I urge your Lordship to follow their result. There was substantial non compliance with electoral process and irregularities in the election.”
“Preponderance of evidence before this panel shows, respondents have no case to weigh on the scale compared to the petitioner’s case.
“The petitioner with what we have submitted in his unwavering evidence should be so declared and returned as the governor of Osun state,” he submitted.