On 27 January 2023, the election tribunal for Osun State ruled that the 16 July 2022 election that returned Ademola Adeleke as governor of the state was riddled with inefficiencies linked to the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). In this explainer, we run through what happened in Osun state and what Adeleke's case means for Nigeria.
Tribunal sacks Adeleke as governor
The tribunal ruled that there was over-voting in some polling units in the state.
Specifically, inconsistencies in the number of registered and eventually accredited voters in 744 polling units meant that the votes in these areas should be removed from the overall count.
The subsequent calculation overturned the result, where Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored fewer votes than the former governor, Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
This is because the APC and PDP candidates received 60,096 and 112,705 votes from the 744 polling units. The tribunal ordered those votes removed, which led to APC having 314,931 (initially 375,027) votes and PDP getting 290,666 (initially 403,371) votes.
The tribunal further instructed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare Oyetola as the election's winner and return him elected.
This is not the first time Adeleke and Oyetola have contested the governorship or that the courts have ruled on the result.
In 2018, just before the last general elections, Adeleke and Oyetola contested the governorship to succeed then-governor Aregbesola. In that contest, Oyetola was declared the winner after a supplementary election. However, the tribunal called the result for Adeleke before the original result was maintained at the Supreme Court.
Who is the new governor of Osun state?
Adeleke will stay on as the new governor of Osun state and will appeal the decision. As long as he does so within 21 days of the tribunal decision, he will stay in office and maintain the status quo till the result of a supreme court decision.
However, the impact of this decision will play a very consequential role in the run-up to the 2023 elections.
What does this process mean for different stakeholders in the election cycle?
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
The biggest impact of this decision concerns trust in the electoral management process, especially as managed by INEC.
The introduction of BVAS was meant to provide a level of legitimacy and trust in the process, and the result of the ruling can lead to concerns about how free and fair the results are. So it looks like the issue of over-voting that plagued the manual election is still possible.
It could also lead to more concern on INEC’s part to reassure citizens in the run-up to the general elections.
Judiciary and election tribunals
Most election results are resolved once a winner is declared, because it is determined that they have met the necessary constitutional provisions to be returned elected.
However, in some cases, some participants feel that the electoral process was unfair and that there was an undue advantage.
Tribunals have thus been designated to cover the appeal process, especially to ensure that other legal issues are not ignored during the election process.
But, decisions of the tribunal are subject to appeal to higher courts. Most election challenges end up getting resolved at the level of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The impact of this decision is that there might still be more contentious litigation points that affect the ability of the judiciary to manage and attend to them.
Another legacy of the ruling is the response political parties will take ahead of future election results. Many parties will likely start assembling scores of lawyers to petition and sue for different outcomes.
The people of Osun are also important stakeholders that this decision will impact. Certain commitments regarding investment in the state from outside may now be on hold. Also, any attempts at reform by Adeleke may also be resisted because some think he may not be around so long, and they may decide to wait him out.
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The timely prospect of mining gold in Nigeria — Gbemisola Alonge writes on the future of gold in Nigeria and the Segilola gold project domiciled in Osun state.
Osun 2022 elections: the next governor’s challenge – Adesola Afolabi looked at Osun’s economic affairs following the latest off-cycle governorship elections in Osun State.
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