…Says resolving issue of voters register to prove over-voting in BVAS era’ll deepen legal jurisprudence
Spokesperson to the immediate past Osun Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, Ismail Omipidan, has described the opinion by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), asking his Principal not to explore the option of going to the Supreme Court as an attempt to bully him and his supporters to silence, insisting such a piece of advice and opinion were in bad taste.
He also challenged HURIWA to provide any material, whether in print or in broadcast form, that suggested that his Principal ever engaged in any verbal war since the litigation began in August last year, adding that the association should direct its charge of verbal war at the Osun Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, who not only tried to incite the public against the judiciary after the January 27 Tribunal judgement sacking them, but use several unprintable words to describe members of the Tribunal for the reason that the judgement did not favour them.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Omipidan noted that he would have ignored HURIWA’s opinion on the Appeal court judgement if he had read a line of condemnation from the body when the Osun PDP and the Governor released the phone number of the Tribunal Chairman to the public, asking them to hurl insults and curses on the Tribunal chairman when the judgement did not go their way.
“After the January 27 Tribunal judgement sacking Senator Ademola Adeleke, under 24 hours, they issued four press statements, including a state broadcast by the Governor, casting aspersions on the Tribunal. I did not hear a word of condemnation from HURIWA when the PDP specifically called members of the Tribunal ‘hired mercineries’ who ‘waybilled’ a judgement that was allegedly paid for.
“But in the case of my Principal, in spite of the fact that last Friday’s Appeal Court judgement did not go his way, he reinstated his belief in the judiciary to do justice in the matter and expressed his willingness to test the decision of the appellate court at the Supreme Court. Is that the kind of person you accuse of engaging in verbal war?
“At any rate, as a layman in law, I believe that the Supreme Court’s resolution of issue of voter register vis-a-vis the relevance of the register to prove over-voting in the era of BVAS will no doubt further deepen our legal jurisprudence on Electoral matters, especially taking into cognisance Sections 47, 51 and 64 of the Electoral Act 2022.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 47 (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 stipulates that ‘To vote, the presiding officer shall use a smart card reader or any other technological device that may be prescribed by the Commission, for the accreditation of voters, to verify, confirm or authenticate the particulars of the intending voter in the manner prescribed by the Commission.’ And in the case of Osun Governorship Election, BVAS was deployed.
“Section 51 (2) of the Act further stipulates that ‘where the number of votes cast at an election in any polling unit exceeds the number of accredited voters in that polling unit, the presiding officer shall cancel the result of the election in that polling unit.’
“And in resolving dispute as to election results, Section 64 (6) outlines the steps to be taken, including obtaining ‘data of accreditation recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed as prescribed under section 47(2) of this Act ; and (d) the votes and result of the election recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed, as prescribed under section 60 (4) of this Act.’ All these were the materials we pleaded before the Tribunal and were transmitted to the Appeal Court. But the learned Justices said we needed to have added a voters register. And you do not want us to test all these at the Supreme Court?
“Again, look at the issue of data from INEC’s back-end server. Ahead of the 2023 Governorship and State House of Assembly elections, INEC in its affidavit to the Court of Appeal, which was granted, says the accreditation data contained in the BVAS could not be tampered with or lost, as they would be stored and easily retrieved from its accredited back-end server. Yet, last Friday’s judgement stated clearly that we cannot rely on accreditation data from the same INEC back-end server and you want us to keep quiet?
“Rather than vilify or attempt to bully my Principal into silence, I thought he should be commended for taking to the part of civility and the rule of law; and for helping to deepen the country’s democratic values and the electoral system.
“At any rate, since 1999, outcomes of Election Petitions Tribunal sittings, especially from Osun, have in no small way helped to deepen the country’s electoral system. I am, therefore, persuaded that this particular case will not be an exception. Let no one, HURIWA and the PDP inclusive, try to gag my Principal into silence. They cannot bully him to silence.
“We wonder why HURIWA did not ask Governor Adeleke to ‘stop his legal voyage’ when he lost at the Tribunal,” Omipidan asked.