UPDATED: Oyetola Loses As Appeal Court Affirms Adeleke Osun Governor Using BVAS Information
….As Panel Throws Out Oyetola’s Certificate Forgery Case Against Adeleke
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the actual winner of the Osun governorship election, citing evidence from the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machine and voters register.
THE WHISTLER reports that the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal had on January 27, 2023, sacked Senator Ademola Adeleke as governor of the state for over-voting in 744 polling units in the state.
The tribunal, in a majority decision, also declared Adegboyega Oyetola as the winner of the July 16, 2022 election.
Recall that Adeleke’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu SAN, had entered an appeal against the tribunal’s judgment on 12 February 2023.
Ikpeazu argued that Oyetola used incorrect polling unit results uploaded on the Independent National Electoral Commission’s back end server, at the Tribunal.
He contended that while the tribunal granted him leverage to Inspect the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines used for the election, and the Certified True Copies of data extracted from it, the judges refused to base their findings on it.
Ikpeazu urged the court to allow the appeal and set aside the decision of the lower court
But Oyetola’s counsel, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, countered Ikpeazu, saying that the Tribunal’s judgment followed scrutiny of evidence made by witnesses including INEC officials.
Fagbemi maintained that in the 774 polling units, the Tribunal observed that overvoting gave Adeleke 112,705 votes while Oyetola got 60,000 votes.
He added that on that basis, the lower court cancelled the affected polling unit results.
In its judgment on Friday, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal held that the tribunal was wrong to reach a conclusion on overvoting using oral witnesses without considering information on the BVAS machine and voters register which are central to the 2023 election.
The judges held that the BVAS, which accredits and eventually uploads results are “primary evidence” in Nigerian elections due to the revised Electoral Act 2022.
The panel held that oral evidence alone was enough to prove electoral malpractice, faulting the tribunal for relying only on witnesses’ testimonies.
Moreso, the appellate court held that to prove overvoting, one must equally depend on the INEC voters register and certified true copies of results from polling units.
“To tender voters register and BVAS machine report form the foundation of all that transpired at the polling unit,” the panel held while faulting Oyetola’s lawyers for not providing it at the lower court.
“The appeal is meritorious and is thereby allowed. The judgment of the tribunal is hereby set aside,” the court held.
CROSS-APPEAL ON CERTIFICATE FORGERY
After affirming Adeleke as Osun Governor, the Court of Appeal returned to preside over a cross-appeal filed by Oyetola against Adeleke.
The application claimed that Adeleke submitted forged certificates to INEC before contesting the governorship election.
He urged the court to disqualify Adeleke on that sole ground.
But Adeleke’s lawyers urged the panel to uphold the decisions of coordinate or superior courts which had cleared their client of certificate forgery.
Passing its judgement, the Court of Appeal held that Oyetola’s certificate forgery allegation was not proved beyond reasonable doubt by him.
“This cross-appeal is meritless and is hereby dismissed,” the court said.