ANALYSIS: Osun Tribunal verdict as test for BVAS and INEC


By Remi Adebayo

The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on Friday, January 27, 2023 finally laid to rest, or so it seems, the dispute arising from the July 16 governorship election where Governor Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was returned elected.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared Adeleke winner of the election, after defeating the incumbent Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who scored 403,271 votes against Oyetola’s 375,027 votes.

But not satisfied with the outcome and alleging foul play in the results declared in 749 polling units in 10 local government areas across the state, Oyetola on August 5, 2022 filed a petition against the outcome of the election.

Delivering judgement on Friday, Chairman of the three-member panel, Justice Tertsea Kume said the July 16, 2022 governorship election was not conducted in compliance  with the Electoral Act.


Kume agreed with the APC that there was indeed over voting in 744 polling units and said it was the duty of the tribunal to deduct the valid votes cast from the over-voting.

He asserted that after the deduction of valid votes scored by the candidates from the observed over-voting, Gboyega Oyetola of APC polled 314,931, while Adeleke polled 290,266 votes.

“For the second emphasis, the total lawful votes for each of the candidates after the deduction of the invalid votes is 314,931 votes for the first petitioner and  290,266 votes for the second respondent.”

He consequently held that the second respondent (Adeleke) did not score a majority lawful votes cast for the election and directed the first respondent – INEC, to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Adeleke being the first respondent and issue it to Oyetola.

The tribunal, however, ruled that Adeleke was qualified to stand for the election because the alleged forgery of educational certificate could not be established.
It said that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, report submitted by the petitioner as an exhibit was admitted, while PDP’s objection to the document was dismissed by the tribunal.

There was a dissenting judgement. Justice B.A. Ogbuli, in his minority judgement posited that the petitioner’s witnesses “did not adequately prove that there was over-voting in BVAS machine report”.

“The issues number two and three, which relate to the second ground of the petition, I, with utmost difference, disagree with the analysis of the evidence laid by the tribunal.

“The evidence of PW1 was inconsistent and thoroughly shaking under cross-examination, apart from errors and inconsistency in Paragraphs 33 and 37 of the written statement.

“We admitted specifically that BVAS machine is the primary source of the results, which he claimed he analysed.

“But he never used the BVAS to prove or analyse BVR exhibit in paragraph five of the written statement,” Ogbuli said.

Ruling, a miscarriage of justice – Adeleke

Meanwhile, Governor Ademola Adeleke has faulted the verdict of the tribunal, describing the ruling as “a miscarriage of justice.”

Adeleke, in a statement by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed vowed that the judgment would be appealed. 

Rasheed faulted the tribunal’s decision on over-voting in favour of Oyetola, describing it as “an unfair interpretation against the will of a majority of voters.”

The Governor then called on his supporters to remain calm, vowing to appeal the judgement to retain the mandate.

“I call on our people to remain calm. We will appeal the judgement and are sure justice will be done.

“Let our people be reassured that we will do everything possible to retain this widely acclaimed mandate,” the statement said. 

PDP supporters protest

The verdict was greeted by protests from PDP supporters who stormed the streets in Osogbo on Friday to express their dissatisfaction over the judgment.

The protesters in their hundreds trooped to the streets with placards bearing different inscriptions and chanting anti-opposition songs.

Some of the inscriptions read: “We say no to APC in Osun. Tribunal Panel is not fair. Don’t Dash our peoples mandates, Olorunda Local Government says no to tribunal judgment”.

Judgement, a triumph of justice, truth over falsehood, APC reacts

The APC in Osun state described the judgment as a triumph of justice and truth over falsehood.

Acting State Chairman of Osun APC, Sooko Tajudeen Lawal, in a statement said that Oyetola’s victory at the tribunal was an indisputable indication that the APC is the dominant political party in the state.

Lawal stated that he never, for once, doubted the victory of Oyetola at the tribunal as the verdict was a confirmation that the APC candidate did not lose the July 16, 2022 election.

Lawal observed that the difference in the votes won by Oyetola, as declared by the tribunal, was enough to prove that the APC candidate won the election conveniently and convincingly.

He said the majority judgement that gave Oyetola victory further underscored the fact that the court of law is the last hope of the common man as justice was not only served, it was seen to have been glaringly done.

It’s triumph of light over darkness – Tinubu

 Meanwhile, the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu while hailing the judgment, described it as a triumph of light over forces of darkness.

Tinubu, in a congratulatory message to Oyetola issued by Tunde Rahman also said the victory was a reward for perseverance that was well deserved.

He described the victory as a triumph of courage over forces that sought to arrest the progressive good governance the APC administration delivered to the people of Osun,  under the leadership of Oyetola.

“It is  a  triumph of perseverance, courage and justice over electoral fraud and democratic perversion.

“The forces of darkness plotted to extinguish the able leadership and progressive good governance that improved the quality of life of our people under your leadership.

“The tribunal delivered justice and restored the mandate freely given to you and our great party,” Tinubu said.

Osun people will triumph – Atiku

The presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar while reacting to the judgement expressed optimism that the mandate given to Adeleke by the people of Osun will be protected.

“On today’s verdict of the election petition tribunal in Osun state, I stand in solidarity with the good people of Osun state who overwhelmingly voted for the Peoples Democratic Party and gave their mandate to His Excellency Governor Demola Adeleke.

“What has happened at the tribunal today is a phase in the struggle to liberate Osun State and I am sure that at the conclusion of the whole process, the people shall be victorious.

“I therefore call on the people of Osun to continue to have faith in their governor elected into office in popular ballot. This light that has shone on Osun shall never go dim,” Atiku said.

Gbajabiamila hails verdict

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila congratulated Oyetola, saying the tribunal verdict was a welcome development and a fair deal for the people of Osun State who stood behind the APC candidate for a second term.

He noted that with the judgment, the APC remains the party to beat at all times, especially during the forthcoming general elections.

Gbajabiamila said that the people of Osun State have been vindicated by the verdict and called on all APC members in Osun and across the country to remain law-abiding and brace up for the general elections.

Akeredolu excited…

In the same vein, Ondo State governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu described the verdict as a reflection of the will of the people of the state who voted massively for the APC and Oyetola in the election.

Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Richard Olatunde,  said the judgement has again restored the hope of a common man and reinforced confidence in the judiciary.

“We received with delight, the news of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal which declared Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola as winner of the July 16 governorship election in the State.

“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”, said Akeredolu. 

 Tribunal, a new challenge to INEC’s BVAS

Expectedly, the judgement of the tribunal is just the first phase of resolving the disputes arising from the Osun election as the incumbent Senator Ademola Adeleke still has a window to upturn the Justice Tertsea Kume-led majority decision on appeals, and this he has decided to pursue. 

Political watchers are in fact aware that whichever way the Friday verdict had gone would be the beginning of another legal phase to settle the disputed election.
As it stands, Governor Adeleke remains the governor of Osun State except he opts to admit the verdict of the tribunal without a challenge.

However, in the event that the tribunal’s verdict is sustained with confirmation of mass over-voting, some respondents told Credible News that it poses serious threat to the sanctity of the forthcoming general elections.

The introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, which is being contested over its porosity to over-voting can erode voter confidence that may be greeted with apathy.

Many prospective voters have named the introduction of the device as reason they have confidence that the 2023 general elections would be fraud-free. Now its seeming vulnerability to electoral fraud could in turn become an undertaker to the process and the hope for a credible poll that guarantees validity of individual’s vote.

Confirming this, pundits hold that the electoral body needs to meet the high expectations by Nigerians for a process that could not be bypassed to compromise the sanctity of elections.

The verdict also serves to task INEC on the reliability of BVAS, the dependability of its personnel and how it intends to assure the people that their votes will count will less than 30 days to the presidential and national assembly elections.

Analysts are of the opinion that the electoral umpire has a mandate to further firm up the process, especially considering that the Osun election was hailed to have been conducted creditably and peacefully as attested to by various observers. The body must redouble its effort to reassure the electorates of the credibility of BVAS in that it remains reliable to guarantee a credible elections which will reflect truly the wishes of voters.

They believe that this will stave off politicians’ undying thirst for spotting loopholes that can destabilize the outcomes of elections and make the judiciary, instead of votes the decider of who occupy political offices.

With that in place, the confidence to organise elections whose outcomes will be acceptable to contenders will be promising, with little or no role for the judiciary to affirm or throw away the mandate given to choice candidates at various elections by the voters.

As the contest goes to the appeal, it is obviously too early for the winners at the tribunal to jubilate, neither is it for the loser to give up seeing that the verdict has just opened up a new battle ground for the mandate of Osun electorate as being claimed by both parties to begin.