The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the verdict of the Appeal Court, affirming the victory of Sen. Ademola Adeleke as governor of Osun State in the July 2022 poll.
The apex court said by the records of BVAS, there was no over-voting in the election as claimed by the appellants, the defeated governor of the state, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress.
Reeling out judgment on Tuesday, a five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice John Okoro, held that while Oyetola argued that the presiding officers who conducted the elections in 774 polling units did not use the BVAS machine, he could not substantiate it.
The apex court said in the lead judgment prepared by Justice Emmanuel Agim, that since the BVAS was the sole foundation and focal point of the appellant’s case, it was imperative that they produced the content of the BVAS in those affected polling units.
“It is glaring that the appellant did not produce any BVAS machine report as evidence to buttress his claim.
“It is not in dispute that the BVAS accredits voters, it is therefore the only direct and primary record of voters on election day,” it ruled.
He said based on INEC regulations and guidelines, an election results can only be collated if the results tally with the figures in the BVAS and the ones transmitted to the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IRev).
“Without the BVAS, it is impossible to rebuff this presumption.”
Okoro said it was important to note that the Electoral Act do not require presiding officers to transmit by BVAS the particulars of voters to the INEC backend server, “It only provides that the BVAS should scan results collated and transmits to the IREV.”
“In the light of the foregoing, it was the record on the BVAS for each polling unit that could prove the number of voters.
“Voters register are to be used alongside with the BVAS.
“INEC guidelines states that the accreditation process shall comprise of authentication of voters using the BVAS and identification of the electoral through the voter register.
“It is glaring that the appellants could not prove over-voting,” the supreme court held.
The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal had on January 27, 2023, sacked Adeleke as governor of the state on the grounds of over-voting in 744 polling units in the state.
The tribunal, in a majority judgment, declared Oyetola as the winner of the July 16, 2022 poll.
But the Court of Appeal overturned the judgment following applications filed by Adeleke’s lawyer, Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN).
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had on March 24, 2023, affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the actual winner of the Osun governorship election, citing evidence from the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machine and voter’s register.
Ikpeazu had argued that Oyetola used incorrect polling unit results uploaded on the Independent National Electoral Commission’s back end server at the Tribunal.
But Oyetola’s counsel, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, maintained that the Tribunal’s judgment followed scrutiny of evidence made available by INEC.
The Court of Appeal held that the tribunal was wrong to reach a conclusion on over-voting using oral witnesses without considering information on the BVAS machine and voter’s register which are central to the 2023 election.
The court held that the appellant, Oyetola did not produce the voter’s register as well.
“The Court of Appeal correctly found that the appellant failed to prove their case, for this reason I resolve the issues 3,5,9 in favour of the respondents.”
On the issue of certificate forgery, the apex court held it was settled by the Court of Appeal in two decisions, adding that the judgment had settled the educational status of Adeleke.
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