Posted by News Express | 21 March 2019 | 792 times
Nigerian democratic experiment has passed through several phases. The turbulence of the polity can be demoralising and the contestations truly ungodly. At times, in the brickbat of power struggle emerged shining light to which all political warlords embrace, even when they share different political orientations. The September 2018 governorship election in Osun State was one in which rivals and allies agreed that a candidate, Ademola Adeleke, was openly and brazenly robbed of victory.
Let’s get certain facts straight: Politics is not ungodly as many seem to paint it. Those who deny God in their political dealings end miserably. Many examples abound. Those who think there is no place for justice miss an eternal lesson. God is a lord of justice. In the murky waters of politics, justice is very much ruling because the sword of justice is the message of God. Osun is a critical test case for the Nigerian political class. This is an open recorded and documented case of daylight violent electoral robbery. A date has been fixed for judgment. The world is in search of that voice of justice; he who will serve as an eternal tool in the hand of God to proclaim that justice is my product and those who deliver it are my true servants. They won’t be overwhelmed; they will triumph if they stand by equity and justice.
The story of Osun gubernatorial election was well documented. In broad daylight and live on television, a winner was swindled and a popular mandate was stolen. During the electioneering, nobody gave Senator Adeleke any chance. He was maligned. He was attacked and he suffered untold personal injuries. He was vilified and painted in the worst of images. Series of trumped up charges were filed; his campaign train was severally shot at. It was a terrifying campaign session for the senator. His vilification, however, only served to endear him more to the people. Public sympathy was huge. Osun people trooped out and massively voted and reposed a gubernatorial mandate to the Senator. With live transmission, his votes were removed. Alteration of results was massively perpetrated. Strangely, he still won by over five hundred votes.
Shocked at the manipulative failure so far, the anti-democratic forces swung into action and returned with a concoction of a rerun, based on cancellation of only seven units out of close to 3,010 polling units and 7,550 voting points in the state. The state was thrown into mourning. Osun people who had struggled peacefully to deliver themselves from the slave masters had their hope truncated. A spontaneous state-wide demonstration was to ensue. Immediately, the candidate and the party intervened, urging maintenance of law and order and insisting that our God is a God of justice. The state was saved from the like of 1964/65 “operation weti e”. Instead of taking laws into their hands, the robbed mandate-holder shunned violence and, instead, reposed hope and confidence in the hallowed and sacred chambers of justice: the judiciary.
The consensus was that Nigerian judiciary has for long been a harbinger of justice: Osun Election Tribunal will provide another opportunity to prove that Nigeria still has judges whose integrity is godly, and whose principle and philosophy are regulated by nothing but justice and equity.
In this Internet age, the proceedings at the tribunal was also judiciously followed by many Nigerians. In court was the petitioner, Senator Adeleke, the man who was denied of victory. The respondents were Gboyega Oyetola, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In the course of trial, the petitioner presented about 84 witnesses: party agents who proved beyond reasonable doubt that the actual election results were doctored and tampered with. The INEC collated results differ from the original pink copies issued to party agents after the election. There were rampant cases of figure manipulation, over-voting and non-recording of accreditation. The petitioner went the extra mile to prove that the rerun of September 27, 2018 was not an election; but, a violently rigged exercise where Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) agents and voters were harassed, attacked and denied opportunities to participate. The weight of evidence was not just captured in written submissions, but there were electronic evidence too. A reporter from Channels Television actually came to testify and confirmed the violence and manipulation of the rerun exercise, showing video recordings.
Many things happened that shocked most Nigerians about the respondents. For example, INEC – the electoral body which was to defend the results it announced – conducted one of the most porous and weak defences ever in the history of Nigerian judiciary. INEC failed, after almost four adjournments, to call any witness. It was so bad for the commission that at a point its lawyers threw in the towel, confirming that it cannot justify her declaration of Oyetola as the winner of that election. For Oyetola and the APC, they were able to call about 11 witnesses altogether, with half of that number witnessing against them. In the rigorous treatment of the petition, the petitioner also demonstrated superior legal mastery. In several instances, superior legal arguments of the petitioner’s lawyers were affirmed and confirmed by the panel of judges.
From the hearing, it was obvious that the respondents failed woefully to defend how they came about the stolen mandate. The PDP team proved quite vigorously that in the political field, it won clearly and that in the legal field, it reassured that the petition was foolproof. Many Nigerians frequently wondered what will happen at the tribunal. They recounted how the hearing has gone so far. They mostly concluded that the senator should be restored as the duly elected governor of Osun State. There is a consensus among the citizenry that Osun is a blight: a stain on democratic credentials of the nation called Nigeria. It was an election watched by almost all Nigerians in which they know right away the winner, who was later denied of victory. Any person or group of persons who help to reverse a global injustice would have written their names in the golden book of Nigeria and the God of Justice. The weight of that decision is heavy: not because of Ademola but because of the suffering masses of Osun State.
Ever since the tragedy of September 22, and 27, Osun people have remained in perpetual mourning. They know the bondage continues, despite their voting for change a change. Across the 30 local government areas of the state, they piously and anxiously await the day a messiah will set them free. The economic and social hardship in the state coupled with almost N450 billion worth of state debt wreck untold pain on the people. Adeleke remains the only source of political and economic liberation which they perfectly hoped for. Any decision that changes the status quo in Osun will receive a loud blessing and prayers of Osun people.
As the nation awaits the verdict, now is the time to stand for and by the truth. In the life of a nation, speaking and walking the path of truth immortalises a man beyond the vicissitudes of the present. On the panel’s decision rests the fate of over two million Osun people. It is not the fate of Ademola that is at stake, it is that of Osun workers, farmers, students, youths, women and others whose present and future are mortgaged by ruthless slave-holders.
Who will rescue my people? Who will stand by the truth? Who will remove this democratic stain on Nigerian democracy? Whoever does so will become a hero of not just Osun people, but of the Nigerian democracy.
The world is watching!
•Rasheed is the spokesman of Senator Adeleke, PDP governorship candidate in the 2018 election.
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