On March 10, 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s Returning Officer in Oyo State, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, declared that Governor Seyi Makinde of People’s Democratic Party, PDP, won the gubernatorial election held on March 9, 2019. According to Ogundipe, who is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Unilag, Makinde won the election with a total of 515,621 votes to defeat his closest rival, Mr. Adebayo Adelabu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who polled 357,982 votes.
Though, Adelabu congratulated Makinde, after a while, he decided to challenge the victory declared by INEC. He submitted a petition at the Oyo State Governorship Petition Tribunal alleging corrupt practices, over-voting, improper accreditation, inaccurate ballot counting and non-compliance with the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended). He urged the court to nullify the election result.
On the contrary, in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Sirajo Muhammed on behalf of the three-member panel, the court held that the petitioners, Adelabu and the APC failed woefully to prove the allegation raised in their petition, hence, the petition was dismissed.
Not satisfied, Adelabu moved the battle to the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, seeking the court to set aside the judgment of the lower court. The court acceded to his demand on Monday November 11, 2019 by setting aside the judgment of the lower court. However, the court did not declare him winner of the election, the court did not make a pronouncement, and the court did not upturn the victory the incumbent governor recorded at the last governorship election and the court did not make any order for re- hearing of the election petition.
Interpretatively, the status quo remains and Governor Makinde continues to rule the state, until, possibly, if the apex court, the Supreme Court, rules otherwise.
The judgment of Appellant Court was so ambiguous to the extent that the warring parties, PDP and APC both claim being vindicated by the judgment.
Reacting, the Assistant Publicity Secretary of the APC, in Oyo State, Prince Ayobami Adejumo, lauded the Appellate Court’s Judges for their pronouncement, which he claimed, validated the claims of the plaintiffs in the matter before it. He regretted that the people of the state would still have to wait for the final adjudication on the case before Adelabu could reclaim his stolen mandate.
He said, “The verdict given on Monday was unambiguous, apt and sound enough to convince any informed mind about the genuineness of our claim that Makinde’s declaration as the winner of the March 9 poll was done by INEC in error. The results announced were ridiculously inflated and there is no way such conspiracy could stand the test of proper scrutiny as this was just confirmed by the Appellate Court. While we use this opportunity to salute the court for living up to its responsibility as the last hope of the common man, we are appealing to the good people of the state including Oyo APC faithful and other key stakeholders to remain calm and resist from being provoked by the PDP government and its agents who are apparently occupying the Agodi Government House on a borrowed time.
Obviously, the next line of action is for us as a Party and our gubernatorial hopeful to approach the Supreme Court for perfection of the landmark verdict delivered by the Court of Appeal today and, by the special Grace of God, we shall obtain favorable judgment from the Apex Court as only this would lend credence to the fact Nigeria’s democratic practice is premised on free and fair elections as well as the rule of law”.
Countering this position, Governor Makinde declared that the mandate freely given to him through the March 9, 2019, remains intact pointing out that the mandate could not be taken through the backdoor.
According to a statement by his spokesperson, Taiwo Adisa, “There is no ambiguity as to the state of things in our Pacesetter State as far as the election of March 9, 2019, is concerned. Our party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the election. The victory was reaffirmed by a ruling of the Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Ibadan, the state capital. On Monday, the Court of Appeal, also sitting in Ibadan, delivered its judgment on the appeal by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adebayo Adelabu. In its ruling, the Appeal Court refused to grant any of the three key reliefs sought by the APC candidate”.
The statement stated further, “The Court refused to nullify the election; it refused to order a fresh election and it also refused to order the retrial of the petition. With the above being the reality of the outcome of the Appeal Court ruling, the election of Engineer Seyi Makinde as the Governor of Oyo State has just been reaffirmed. There is nothing in the Appeal Court’s ruling that affects the returns made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and there is nothing that tampers with the mandate freely given to Engineer Seyi Makinde by the people of Oyo State. Governor Makinde hereby urges the good people of Oyo State to remain calm and refuse to be provoked by agents of disruption who are seeking to upturn the truth, which remains constant against all odds. We also wish to enjoin the people of Oyo State to ignore the doctored reports in some media outlets, which are merely quoting the judgement of the Court of Appeal out of context. With a clear margin of Makinde’s 515,621 votes to Adelabu’s 357,982 votes, the preference of the people of Oyo State is as clear as day and night”.
While reassuring the people of Oyo State that he cannot be deterred from taking the state to greater heights through the implementation of his four-point service agenda, Governor Makinde insisted that positive governance and unprecedented development will continue to be the portion of the people of Oyo state through his tenure.