OPINION: The Validation from Osun by Abiodun Awolaja

As my piece, “Ademola Adeleke and the Osun mandate thieves” hit town, I received a reaction via Whatsapp questioning my integrity. The writer, a legal practitioner, wanted to know why I was deceiving the people. I found the accusation so strange and so upsetting that I immediately left the venue of the wedding party where I was and headed home, a decision also partly informed by the news that violence had broken out in town among political thugs.

Ahead of the said piece, I had been amazed at the level of duplicity and mendacity displayed by political usurpers and certain legal juggernauts over a matter that was as plain as the sun. Indeed, I could not believe my ears when I heard senior advocates declare, without batting an eyelid, that the Buga judgment delivered by Judge Tertsea Kume was well reasoned and would be hard to upturn!

Of course, my submission was not born out of animosity towards Gboyega Oyetola who, like Ademola Adeleke, I have never met. It was triggered by the short shrift given to the Osun voters. I was looking at the terrible state of affairs foisted by the daylight robbery of Imo State people through a sham verdict that catapulted a loser from fourth position to number one.

Since the imposition of Senator Hope Uzodinma on Imo people, the state has become an abattoir, a lawless jungle where merchants of blood trade tackles. I did not want such a situation replicated in Osun.

Although not a lawyer but a ‘mere’ forensic linguist, I had been outraged by the level of crudity and depravity in the said judgment which went after Adeleke’s person, reviving issues already decided by a superior court and referencing an intellectually vacuous song.

It was while reading INEC’s objections to the judgment that I discovered that the excited judge had not only outlawed Adeleke’s presumed predilection to “Buga won” (wow/intimidate them) as Osun State governor but had in fact also made the Buga symbol in open court! As it turned out, the Court of Appeal completely validated the core of my submissions, deeming the use of Buga objectionable.

A three-member panel of the court led by Mohammed Shuaibu unanimously overturned the Buga judgment, submitting that the tribunal was wrong to have reached the conclusion that there was over-voting during the July 16, 2022 elections, as the petitioners had failed to prove their allegation.

The court dismissed the testimonies of the petitioners’ witnesses as lacking probative value, saying that they “did not tender the voter registers and Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machines, which captured the data of eligible voters during the election in dispute. Its grouse was that they alleged that the results recorded and transmitted directly from the polling units were not taken into account and that therefore the accredited voters recorded in Form EC8A from the disputed polling units did  not tally with the number of BVAS for the same polling units. Strangely, however, the tribunal only relied on the table set out in an address by their counsel to hold that over-voting occurred in the election!

In other words, it assumed the position of spokesman for the petitioners, preferring their ‘evidence’ (sourced from INEC) over that of the defendants, which was also sourced from the same body. If Mr. A and Mr. B present contradictory documents purportedly issued by Institution C, the proper thing to do would be to go to the originating institution (Institution C) to resolve the issue.

But Mr. Kume and his colleague whimsically chose to believe the “evidence” supplied by Oyetola and reject that of Adeleke in the bid to upturn the express desire of the Osun populace. Besides, the appellate court found, as I had argued, that the tribunal “was wrong to have acted on the evidence in isolation of the voter register from the disputed polling units.” It upheld the minority judgment which I had lauded, saying that the failure of the petitioners to dispense with the voter register was fatal to their case.

The Appeal Court judgment proves that not everyone can, in the language of the columnist Farouk Kperogi, be a purchasable judicial bandit. It is criminal for judges to shelve law and logic and award positions to undeserving winners. I said, and still maintain, that the rerun election staged to upset Adeleke’s 2018 governorship win was pure brigandage. It was a blatantly in-your-face electoral heist during which thugs launched deadly attacks on voters in order to secure a predetermined end.

But here is the gist: supposing that Oyetola and his people had actually won the July16, 2022 governorship election, then why have they been unable to replicate that feat in the subsequent elections in the state? During the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections in Osun, the candidate of Adeleke’s PDP, Atiku Abubakar, won 20 local government areas with a total of 354,366 votes to defeat his closest rival, Bola Tinubu of the APC, who scored 343,945 votes.

And in the National Assembly elections, Adeleke again demonstrated his political superiority by leading his party to a massive electoral victory. The party swept all the senatorial and House of Representatives seats, leaving none for the opposition. He then went on to cap off the spectacular performance with a tsunami at the March 19 House of Assembly polls in the state. The PDP won 25 seats, while the APC won just one.

Indeed, if the development temper that I have noticed in the state subsists, then Senator Adeleke is going to have a massive re-election win. Accusing me of deceit won’t change that.

(Nigerian Tribune)

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