Eneke the bird made a rare apprarance in court on Friday as the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal cited the proverbial bird in its judgement.
Eneke is a proverbial bird to which an unforgettable line on survival was attributed in Mr Achebe’s classic novel, Things Fall Apart.
In the majority judgement, read by its chairman, Terste Kume, the tribunal said former Governor Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the election and not Governor Ademola Adeleke of the PDP, who was returned by INEC.
Mr Kume accused INEC officials of tampering with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines to compromise the election in favour of Mr Adeleke.
“The said conduct of the officials of the 1st Respondent, as shown in this judgement, makes the proactive decision of Eneke, the bird in the Novel, Things Fall Apart, 1958 by Chinua Achebe very instructive. In the said novel appears these words; “Men have learnt to shoot without missing, she has learnt to fly without perching.”
Mr Achebe used the quote by the proverbial bird to illustrate how people were adapting to changes in the society in colonial time Igbo land in now South-east Nigeria.
The tribunal chairman said electoral officials manipulated the BVAS machines but did not cover their tracks.
Mr Kume faulted the synchronisation of the BVAS machines after the election, which INEC had cited as explanation for producing two contradictory sets of data on accredited voters.
The INEC counsel, Paul Ananaba, had during cross-examination argued that the election results in possession of the petitioners were incomplete because it was issued to them before the BVAS machines were synchronised.
The INEC counsel said the petitioners had therefore challenged the outcome of the election with incomplete data.
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But the tribunal chairman insisted that the results of the election were still not accurate after the said synchronisation of the BVAS machines.
“We have looked, and evaluated the evidence of the parties as shown in the exhibits before this Tribunal. The contents of the exhibits are clear as day. The said evidence is not from the fertile and creative imagination of learned counsel for the Petitioners, as erroneously submitted by learned counsel for the Respondents in their respective reply addresses on points of law to the issues under consideration,” he said.
“The ‘synchronisation’ of the documents made by the 1st Respondent, and the physical inspection of same done by the 2nd and 3rd Respondents, as shown in the table herein before reproduced, run riot to the defences raised by each of the Respondents to this petition in respect of issues 2 and 3 under consideration,” he added.
“The said ‘synchronisation’, rather than rhyme with each other are inconsistent and contradictory. The said exhibits tendered by the Respondents have not rebutted the presumption of regularity in favour of exhibit BVR and the other documents tendered by the Petitioners in this petition,
“In other words, the defences of the Respondents are plagued with fundamental mortal flaws highly irreconcilable and unreliable, incapable of defeating the credible evidence tendered by the Petitioners in respect of the 744 Polling Units were over-voting has been established.”
The Tribunal chairman maintained that evidence before the panel showed that the governorship election was not conducted in compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act.
“The inference, we hereby draw from the facts established by the evidence on record is that, the election conducted on the 16th day of July, 2022 was done in substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act (Supra), and the extant regulations made thereunder,” he noted.
“Moreover, exhibit BVR has not been withdrawn by the 1st Respondent who made and issued it. The Petitioners relied on exhibit BVR in maintaining this petition. The Respondents are hereby stopped from acting inconsistent with the import and tenor of exhibit BVR. See Section 169 of the Evidence Act (Supra). See also Thaddeus v. Atule (2022) LPELR-57539 (CA) 1 at 57-59, paras, F-A; Agboguuleri v. Depo & Ors (2008) LPELR-243 (SC) 1 at 17-18, paras, C-C; AG. Rivers State v. A.G Akwa Ibom State & Anor (2011) LPELR-633 (SC) 1 at 21-22 paras F-A and Mabamije v. Otto (2016) LPELR-26058 (SC) 1 at 15-16 paras C-B,” he cited.
“Similarly, the exhibits tendered by the Respondents after exhibit BVR, as rightly submitted by learned counsel for the Petitioners were thought of after the declaration of result on the 17th day of July, 2022. See Agbonifo v. Aiwereoba (Supra); Lawal v. State (2010) LPELR-46221 (CA) 1 at 23 paras B-C; PDP & Anor v. Aminu & Anor (2019) LPELR-47330 (CA) 1 at 34-35 paras C-D and Agbo v. State (2006) LPELR-242 (SC) 1 at 43-44 paras G-B,”
“The said conduct of the Respondents, especially, the 1st Respondent amounts to tampering with official records. See Agbonifo v. Aiwereoba (Supra) at 20 – 21 paras F-A, per Nnaemeka-Agu (JSC) of blessed memory,”
“The conduct of the 1st Respondent in the said election under consideration has produced multiple accreditation reports contrary to its avowed declaration to conduct free, fair and credible elections on the basis of one man or woman with one vote.”
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