For the Governor of Osun State, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, the governorship election conducted last Saturday with results declared the next day is not over yet. The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in that election is set to challenge the victory of Senator Ademola Adeleke and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through the judicial process.
In 2018, Adeleke challenged Oyetola’s declared victory in the courts but lost in the end.
Last Sunday morning, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced PDP’s Adeleke the winner of the poll with 403,371 votes as against 375,027 votes for his closest rival, Oyetola. PDP won in 18 of the state’s 30 Local Government Areas, while APC was victorious in the remaining 12 LGAs.
A team of 50 lawyers, including Senior Advocates, with Dr Biodun Layonu (SAN) at the head, has been assembled to challenge the PDP victory at the election tribunal, according to one of its members, Kunle Adegoke, The PUNCH reports. In preparation for the legal fireworks, the legal team has been sifting through the election documents.
Adegoke said, “In an election of this nature, the documents will be so many. So it is important to look at them critically before we make a decision and that is exactly what we are working on right now.
“In the meantime, the two members of the legal team we can reveal are Dr Biodum Layonu and Kunle Adegoke. Others that may come in are people we may not know, but as soon as we are ready to move, we will notify the press.
“The membership can’t be determined as many lawyers are interested in joining the team. You know election petition is a special case. So, we allow as many lawyers that are interested to come in. We may run into 50 or more members”.
Following Sunday’s result announcement, Governor Oyetola’s Chief Press Secretary, Ismaila Omipidan counselled APC supporters to remain calm, noting that his principal would respond after studying the results.
He said: “Governor Adegboyega Oyetola has taken cognisance of the results of the governorship election in the state as announced by INEC on Sunday. He, however, noted that the party would be responding appropriately after studying the results and consulting with critical stakeholders of the party”.
The Media Adviser to the APC chairman in Osun State, Kola Olabisi told The PUNCH on Tuesday that whatever position was taken by Oyetola on the outcome of the election would also be the stand of the party.
But Adeleke has warned INEC against tampering with the materials used for the poll in a bid to favour the APC. In a statement by the Chairman of his Media Management Team, Prince Diran Odeyemi, Adeleke said that there were insinuations that the APC leadership was working on INEC to tamper with some electoral materials that would be used against Adeleke’s victory at tribunal.
The statement alleged that some APC leaders had been moving around the local government offices of the commission to liaise with the INEC officials who would tamper with some election materials kept in their custody. Adeleke therefore called on the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to direct the commission’s officials in the state to submit all electoral materials to the state headquarters”.
Olabisi however challenged Adeleke and the PDP to prove their allegation. “They said they have won the election, yet they are still afraid. That means they have skeletons in their wardrobe. They are just ranting. They should prove their allegation or stop ranting. They are afraid of their shadow”, he said.
The Secretary of the state’s PDP Legal Committee, Hashim Abioye said that bringing together several lawyers by the APC to challenge Adeleke’s victory was not a threat to the party. According to him, engaging a large number of lawyers is within the right of the APC, adding that the PDP team would be waiting to meet them.
Abioye further said: “The APC have a right to line up as many lawyers as they can. It is their right. It is not a threat at all. I have been involved in so many election petition matters where you line up as many lawyers as you can. That does not mean anything. There is no room for anyone to hide again in litigation. You place your card face up. We are waiting for them”.
But a political analyst, Sunny Anyanwu described the planned litigation by the Governor as a waste of time and resources, adding that the election, which produced Adeleke, was adjudged free and fair, and it was the will of the people.
“What Oyetola is doing is wasting his time and resources of Osun people. I wish the 2023 presidential election would be like what happened in Osun, Nigerians will be happy. It was adjudged to be free and fair, even by international observers. The people of Osun have spoken, they want Adeleke”, he submitted.