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Election Tribunals: Judiciary as the Last Hope of the Electorate

The electorate breathed a sigh of relief as the Osun State Election Tribunal passed judgment on Friday, 22nd March declaring Senator Ademola Adeleke of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the rightful winner of the Osun state elections held on September 22th 2018. The three-man panel of judges had two of the judges favouring the decision while the third judge dissented in the judgment which cancelled the poll results from the supplementary results which was setup after the main election had ended inconclusive.

Mr Gboyega Oyetola, a nephew of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate at the September 2018 elections in Osun was said to have polled a total of 255,505 votes against Adeleke, the PDP candidate, who scored a total of 255,023 votes; and was declared winner after the supplementary votes which culminated from the inconclusive polls.

It is however a widely known fact within the political intelligentsia that the elections in Osun state, and even the one held in earlier in Ekiti state, were the origins of vote buying; and as well the platform on which the new template of rigging was test-run. It was widely known that the presidency mobilized an unprecedented number of para-military forces (who eventually got compromised, while the All Progressives Congress (APC) also deployed huge stacks of cash in an attempt to sway the elections in their favour. There were even eyewitness tales of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) staff who participated in the election buying cars en-masse after the elections.

The elections in Osun and Ekiti was the foundation for the impunity which was to come months later in the February and March 2019 polls; it was a sign of how desperate politicians were ready to go to retain their seats or to kick out an incumbent. There is no doubt that the way the polls in Osun and Ekiti turned out discouraged a lot of people from turning out to vote in the last February and March elections.

And so as the declaration came on the heels of the last shamefully conducted elections, the crop of the electorate who felt robbed by the extant rigging and targeted violence which transpired would become reassured that there is hope for the mandate of their candidates to be retrieved eventually.  Though it is not yet uhuru for Adeleke, as he still has to win at both the Appeal court and the Supreme court to be able to finally retrieve the mandate – he and his supporters are atleast encouraged to keep pushing a win for the last lap of the race.

Despite the earlier calls for Atiku Abubakar not to go to the Appeal court to challenge the presidential elections, himself and his flagship party, the PDP, have gone ahead to try their own luck with a filing on Tuesday, 19th March at the presidential election petition tribunal. With a strong legal team comprising Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) numbering up to 20, the petition on behalf of Atiku is said to have called up to 400 witnesses across the country.

Aside the earlier concerns about the machinations of the executive branch of government which sought to rubbish or indict the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen, and other judicial officers in trumped up charges; that Atiku and his attorneys feel strongly to go to the court after the elections speaks volume of the trust they still have in the judiciary per their petition.

This first win by Senator Adeleke is not only symbolic on what the fate of the polity holds, it also bears good augur that a great number of the rigged elections and stolen mandates across the country will get retrieved for the rightful winners sooner or later. It is safe to say, afterall, that the judiciary is truly the last hope of the common Nigerian.

Featured image source: THISDAYLIVE

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Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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