The legal battle over the governorship election of Osun State in Nigeria has come to a conclusion, with the Court of Appeal in Abuja reinstating Ademola Adeleke as the rightful governor of the state. The three-member panel of justices declared that the election tribunal was wrong to have accepted the allegation of over-voting against Adeleke.
The governorship election took place in September 2018, with Adeleke running against Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC). After the election, Adeleke was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with a slim margin of victory, but the APC disputed the results, claiming that there had been over-voting in some polling units.
In January 2019, the Osun governorship election tribunal, which was set up to hear the case, ruled in favor of Oyetola, stating that he had been able to prove that there was indeed over-voting in some polling units. The tribunal ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Adeleke and issue a fresh one to Oyetola as the duly elected governor of Osun.
However, Adeleke appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal, arguing that the election tribunal had erred in its decision. The three-member panel of justices that heard the appeal agreed with Adeleke’s arguments, declaring that the tribunal was wrong to have accepted the allegation of over-voting against Adeleke. The judges ruled that Adeleke was the legitimate winner of the election and that his certificate of return should be reinstated.
The decision of the Court of Appeal has been widely celebrated by supporters of Adeleke and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which he represents. They see the ruling as a victory for democracy and justice in Nigeria. However, the APC and Oyetola have indicated that they will appeal the decision at the Supreme Court, the highest court in Nigeria.
The legal battle over the Osun governorship election is just one of several that have taken place in Nigeria in recent years. The country’s electoral system has been criticized for being flawed and susceptible to manipulation, with allegations of vote-buying, voter intimidation, and other forms of electoral malpractice being common. The Osun election, in particular, was marred by allegations of violence and vote-buying, with several people arrested in connection with the incidents.
The outcome of the legal battle over the Osun election will have far-reaching implications for Nigerian politics and democracy. It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court will uphold the decision of the Court of Appeal or rule in favor of Oyetola and the APC. Whatever the outcome, it is clear that Nigeria’s electoral system needs to be reformed to ensure that future elections are free, fair, and credible.
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