SHEHU Sani, an activist and former senator who represented Kaduna Central in the Eight Senate, has described the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal ruling, which sacked the state governor Ademola Adeleke on Friday, January 27, as a dangerous omen for the 2023 general polls.
In a post on his verified Twitter page, Sani, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who lost his governorship primary in 2022, said the ruling was a “judicial magic” and “a sad day for democracy”, adding that “the people’s mandate (was) beheaded by judicial voodoo.”
Another activist, Deji Adeyanju, said on his Facebook Page shortly after the ruling that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) remained a concern following the ruling.
“For those boasting about BVAS and INEC result portal, this is a lesson. The over-voting could have occurred from any side but let’s see what Appeal Court and Supreme Court will say,” Adeyanju said.
However, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu hailed the judgment. He said the people’s will prevailed.
In a statement by his chief press secretary, Richard Olatunde, the governor opined that the judgment restored the people’s hope and reinforced their confidence in the judiciary.
“This is indeed a victory for democracy. No doubt, the judgment will further consolidate and deepen our country’s democratic values and election petitions jurisprudence. It will also sustain the faith of the people in our democratic process. The will of the people has prevailed,” he stated.
Akeredolu pledged to be with Oyetola to the Supreme Court, where such cases eventually end.
The tribunal in Osogbo, the state capital, sacked Adeleke and declared Gboyega Oyetola, a winner.
In a split judgment of two against one, the tribunal directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to retrieve the Certificate of Return it issued to Adeleke and give it to Oyetola.
Adeleke took the reins of power on November 27, 2022, as the sixth elected governor of Osun State. Former military leader Ibrahim Babangida created the state in August 1991.
The tribunal expelled him on his 62nd day in office.
On the day he took power, the governor reversed all appointments his predecessor made in his last days in office and froze the state accounts.
His government has repeatedly accused Oyetola’s administration of looting the state resources and running away with government property.
Though Oyetola and his predecessor, the current Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, are members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), they were at loggerheads during the poll.
Oyetola is widely believed to enjoy the support of the APC presidential candidate for the 2023 election, Bola Tinubu.
The ICIR reports that the Osun State gubernatorial poll was held on July 16, 2022, and INEC declared Adeleke the winner.
According to the election umpire, Adeleke polled 403,371 votes and Oyetola, the runner-up, earned 375,027 votes.
In 2018, Adeleke and Oyetola, running on the platform of their respective political parties as they did in 2022, locked horns in the race for the state’s most exalted political seat. Oyetola won in what many saw as a controversial victory.
Shortly after Friday’s ruling, governor Adeleke vowed to appeal the ruling – a move that would make him remain in office till the Supreme Court gives its verdict. The Supreme Court, the highest court in the country, is the last resort for such cases.