Mr Okoli Akirika, an Anambra-based legal practitioner, has hailed Friday’s judgment of the Osun Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, which declared Sen. Ademola Adeleke winner of the Sept. 2018 poll.
Akirika, who is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), described the judgment of the Justice Ibrahim Sirajo’s three-member tribunal as “a welcome development.”
Adeleke of PDP had approached the tribunal, seeking the nullification of the declaration of Gov. Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress winner of the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Reacting to the judgment in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Onitsha on Friday, Akirika said it was “bizarre” for INEC to have ordered a rerun instead of declaring the result of the election.
He said that available records showed that Adeleke had already won the election at the time INEC declared the exercise inconclusive.
He said: “The court had held in the past that once someone secures majority lawful votes and satisfies the constitutional requirements of having 25 per cent of the votes cast in two-thirds of the local governments for the purposes of governorship elections, the person should be declared winner.
“The Judiciary has once again risen to the occasion of asserting its independence.
“It is a welcome development because it was expected that the rerun was unwarranted and unattainable in law when one looks at the provision of the Electoral Act (as amended).
“The judiciary acquitted itself creditably by applying the law and judicial process.
“It is expected that other tribunals across the country will emulate what the Osun tribunal did.
“If you look at the decision, you will find out that it was a split decision, which goes to show that the majority ruled against the decision of the chairman of the tribunal.
Akirika commended the two members of the tribunal “for disagreeing with the chairman on matters of conscience and law.”
According to him, “The judgment has also justified the position of PDP that the result declared by INEC did not reflect what happened at the various polling units.
“It has justified that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man and vindicated PDP by their insistence to resort to the judicial process and applying the rule of the game,” he said.
The PDP stalwart, however, urged Adeleke to ensure that verifiable and justifiable dividend of democracy was provided for the people of Osun by the time he assumes office.
He also advised judges appointed to serve in election petition tribunals to endeavour to deliver their judgments in accordance with the law and dictates of their conscience.
He said, “the ultimate in politics is to make sure that the greatest happiness of the greatest majority is observed.”