*Osun Judgement Questions Integrity of BVAS – Dr Abdul Mahmud
*Fassy Yusuf Reacts, Says Judgement Upholds Rule of Law, Justice, Equity and Fairness

The Chairman, Section of Public Interest and Development (SPIDEL) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Monday Ubani, Chief Fassy Yusuf and a former Chairman of Public Interest Lawyers League, Dr. Abdul Mahmud, have expressed divergent views on the judgement of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal, which sacked Governor Ademola Adeleke from office and declared Gboyega Oyetola as the winner of the election.

The Election Petition Tribunal, which gave its judgment on Friday, alleged over-voting and manipulation of BVAS. The majority judgement, which was read by the Chairman, Justice Tertse Kume, said Oyetola scored the majority lawful votes of 314,931 against Adeleke’s 290,266.

While Ubani and Mahmud questioned the rationale behind the tribunal’s declaration of Oyetola as the winner of the July 16, 2022 election, Chief Fassy Yusuf, also a senior lawyer, said that the judgement is a triumph for the rule of law, justice, equity and fairness. In his comment, Ubani emphasised that any election should be determined by the people and not the court, adding that the court has little or no role to play in terms of election results. “The results of Osun Governorship Election showed that Ademola Adeleke is the people’s mandate and their will cannot be changed.

“The court cannot and the court will never determine who governs a state. They are limited to where there is any irregularity “But where the majority has spoken, the court cannot substitute the will of the people. If this is done, it is a grave danger to our democracy. “My only consolation is that this matter would go all the way to the Supreme Court and I am rest assured that justice would be done at the end of the day,” he said.

On his part, Dr. Abdul Mahmud, said that the judgement is troubling. According to him, “Firstly, it raises questions about the integrity of BVAS. If, as we know it, BVAS ensures that votes must not exceed the numbers of accredited voters, on what basis did INEC declare PDP the winner in July 2022? “I’ve not read the judgement, but the reports of the media suggested that there was over-voting, and it was on this basis that APC was declared winner, having secured the highest number of lawful votes cast.

“Secondly, if the Tribunal found out that there was over-voting, was it right for it to have cancelled the results from the dubious polling units without ordering a fresh election? “The Tribunal ought to have ordered a fresh election, particularly where the numbers of votes in the affected units would have invariably and substantially affected the entire returned results, pursuant to Section 51 of the Electoral Act 2022.

“The Osun judgement has great implications for the 2023 general election in the sense that it raises the question of INEC’s capacity to conduct credible elections and draws the integrity of BVAS to the fore. “If BVAS was designed to eliminate over-voting, how then did over-voting happened in Osun State? I don’t think the Osun election outcome is a function of computation of results. What we are seeing, as I’ve consistently argued, is the corruption and collusion of INEC officials/returning/ presiding officers and parties/ candidates agents in fixing election results.”

In his comments, Chief Fassy Yusuf disclosed that the judgment should be welcomed by all and sundry, saying that the only option left for Adeleke is to appeal the judgement. Yusuf said: “The decision of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal to ask Senator Ademola Adeleke to vacate his position as the state governor should be seen as a triumph for the rule of law, justice, equity and fairness.

This is telling us that no matter what, adherence to the rule of law is supreme. “Therefore, the decision should be welcomed by all. Although, I am yet to see the full content of the judgement, but as it is, judgement is at play. The only option open to Adeleke is to appeal the judgement by going to the higher court and I am sure this case will get to the Supreme Court. The judgement has to be tested by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court”.

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