Forensic Evidence And Politics Of Misinformation

Omo Osun with Kola Olabisi

IN any organization, marketers the set of people bedeviled with problems associated with products such companies are identified with. What is applicable to products is also applicable to services. If a product or service is flawless, marketers are known to have less work to do. But if a product is a bundle of difficulties, marketers who are unfortunate to be saddled with the responsibility of packaging such products are faced with arduous task of extracting water from stone. No matter what the effort of a marketer is, a bad product does not have any other name other than something associated with negativism.

In Osun State today, one needs not be a professional marketer to know that both Engr Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, the indomitable Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate and the embattled incumbent Governor Olagunsoye Ashola Oyinlola, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate are the two prominent politicians in the state of the Living Spring. It is however known to all and sundry that Aregbesola, any time, any day, is a marketer’s delight as little or no effort is required for further packaging of the AC candidate, while it is pungently obvious that for any marketer to get Oyinlola sold, there is need for admixture of ingenuity and unorthodox means of making things happen.

The kernel of this piece is that while Oyinlola is a difficult product, Aregbesola only needs marketing to sustain his enviable political attainment not only in Osun State but in the South-West. Events in the state of the Living Spring since Aregbesola showed his intention to upstage the embattled Governor Oyinlola have shown that though the Okuku prince is a retired Army General but he is a political neophyte who needs tutelage under the younger mechanical engineer whom he once derisively referred to as a refrigerator repairer.

Oyinlola knows where the shoe pinches him because the name ‘Rauf’ haunts him like a plague. Having highlighted the above points, I sympathize with collegue gentleman whose duty it is to package Oyinlola. I will never, just like the other people, join issues with my friend, Mr Lasisi Olagunju, the governor’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS) for protecting his source of livelihood by defending his boss. My area of concern was when the contemporary developments in the Court of Appeal, sitting in Ibadan were misrepresented by my friend to satisfy the whims and caprices of the Okuku prince.

The purpose of his resorting to journalese, semantics and mere chicanery to confuse the good people of Osun State is the reason I feel obliged to straighten the record as an hyper-active member of the public whose duty is to gather, process, and disseminate news on the issue at stake. Olagunju can not tell me we were not together at the press gallery.

I am surprised that the CPS could join in spreading the falsehood that the Court of Appeal did not admit any forensic evidence on Wednesday. It was the same Olagunju who has been spreading this fallacy who said that: “The court, on Wednesday, only consolidated with the main appeal, four interlocutory appeals arising from the decision of the trial tribunal rejecting applications by Aregbesola to introduce Adrian Forty and Tunde Yadeka as additional witnesses as well as an application to re-open his case so as to tender election results. With the consolidation of the appeals on Adrian Forty and others with the main appeal, the decisions of the appeal court on the matters would come with the final judgment”.

With the above statement, it is pungent clear that the CPS is a marker of a difficult product in the person of Oyinlola. And that is why my friend is approbating and reprobating at the same time. The kernel of Olagunju’s propaganda in this regard is at variance with what transpired in the appeal court of that Wednesday. One wonders if the forensic evidence was not admitted, how then, did the CPS agree that “the decisions of the appellate court on the matters would come with the final judgment?” This goes a long way to show that the Oyinlola mouthpiece is all out to confuse unsuspecting members of the public; a development which has failed to achieve the ulterior motive it was intended for because of the awareness level of the people who have unfortunately fallen victims of deceit in the past six years of Oyinlola’s administration in the state.

If Olagunju had wanted to be an unbiased umpire, he would have told members of the public the drama witnessed over the attempt by Oyinlola’s counsel, Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN), to thwart efforts by Aregbesola’s counsel, Chief Kola Awodein (SAN), to make the court admit as exhibit the document containing the report on the forensic expert. It is on record that Ali, in an attempt to stop the document from being incorporated into Aregbesola’s four other appeals, told the five-man panel-led Justice Victor Aimupomo Omage, to discountenance the application containing the report, adding that he had no knowledge of such a document in his file.

Ali’s words: “On the face of the motion, there are four appeals listed. The one listed as 1.5 of the motion, we don’t have any knowledge of it. There are three interlocutory and one substantive appeal”. I hope Olagunju could remember that there was confusion in the court sequel to the insistence of Awodein that he filed the document on December 31, 2008 and that there was a reply from the Oyinlola counsel acknowledging the receipt of the document; a development which made the court to announce a stand-down for five minutes which later dragged to about thirty minutes to enable the counsel and the registry sort out themselves.

During the stand-down, the trial justices sent for the leading interested counsel in their chambers but Ali refused to go and it was the embattled partner of his, Kunle Kalejaiye and Nathaniel Oke (SANs) who went into the justices’ chambers.

The document containing the forensic report was later found in the court’s registry and incorporated by the court into the four briefs of argument. And it was indeed a season of apologies as Oyinlola’s counsel, Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) counsel, Mr Joe Gadzama, and the police counsel, Mr Niyi Owolade, Osun State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General apologized ceaselessly in turns for having told lies before the court, telling the same court that they were aware of the document. What an embarrassment to the court!

WITH the confusion over the document resolved, Awodein moved a motion to include the forensic report in the four appeals filed by Aregbesola. Ali, Gadzama and Owolade did not object. Awodein urged the court to declare Aregbesola winner of the April 14, 2007 governorship election, adding that the Election Petitions Tribunal that heard the case was wrong in rejecting the police security report and Forms EC8D and EC8E tendered before it. The Aregbesola counsel told the court that it was necessary to consider the police security report contained in an envelope marked Exhibit 161 to 171 – Certified True Copy – to assist the court to verify the claims of the appellant that the election was characterized by malpractices and violence.

And that it did not also comply with the Electoral Act. Awodein emphasized that the lower tribunal was wrong in rejecting the police security report and should declare the first appellant winner of the April 14, 2007 governorship election. The Aregbesola lawyer maintained that the failure of INEC to call any witness at the lower tribunal “… is fatal to their case and supports the appellants’ case that there were no counting of votes in the disputed 10 local governments as pleaded and established by evidence. On a clear basis, if your lordships are to deduct or nullify the disputed votes in the affected ten local governments, it will be clear that the appellant would be scoring majority of the votes cast on April 14, 2007 governorship election. We should be declared winner, this is the fulcrum of my submission”.

The failure to submit Form EC8A in seven local governments, particularly in Ife East Local Government by INEC, he added, had established the proof that there were no elections in the area. Awodein, therefore, urged the court to declare Aregbesola winner as contained in paragraphs 158.2 and 158.4 of the petition and as set out on page 77 of volume 1 of the record. According to him, if the valid votes were considered, his client would get the majority and win one-quarter of the votes in two-third of the 30 local government councils making up the state.

Ali prayed the court to dismiss all Aregbesola’s appeals on the grounds that they lack merit and substance, adding that all the appeals were not relevant to the case, citing the cases of Agagu Vs Mimiko and Oshiomhole Vs Osunbor. According to Ali, in the two cases, there were sufficient pleadings and witnesses called to give evidence. He said besides, particular votes were counted units by units and the tribunal made its findings before declaring the petitioners winners, adding that that was not the case in the Osun matter.

The Oyinlola counsel said the appellant had not shown in the interlocutory appeals that the tribunal did not exercise its discretion judiciously. After hearing the arguments of the counsel, Justice Omagie reserved judgement until a date to be communicated to the parties.

When it was Gadzama’s turn, he said it was the duty of the appellants/petitioners to prove their case. In his response to INEC’s failure to call witnesses, Gadzama said it was a deliberate decision because the appellants/petitioners “had wanted our witnesses to do their bidding. The report alluded to by the appellants’ counsel was not frontloaded . And there was substantial compliance with the Electoral Act. There can never be perfect elections. I adopted the submission of my learned respondents’ counsel that the appeal should be rejected”.

BEFORE it was the turn of Owolade to address the court, Justice Omagie took up the INEC counsel, accusing him of malapropism with reference to the use of the word ‘frontloaded’, cautioning that it was used inappropriately. Gadzama however, ate a humble pie for this. Owolade did not even waste the precious time of the court as he turned out to have made one of the shortest addresses in the history of litigation at the appeal court level in this country. After introducing himself, he said: “I seek your indulgence to dismiss the appeals in its entirety”.

Any spiritually gifted mortal who witnessed the proceedings would not believe less that there was more to some of the happenings on the occasion than meets the eyes, as some of the developments and their subsequent solutions were obviously beyond the comprehension of human beings. While a party, through reliance on principalities and power was trying to make things difficult at the proceedings, marathon prayers by the other party were used to counter the power of the devil. Who says there is no power in prayers? There is hardly a place or a day when prayer warriors are not making case for Aregbesola. True to type, the prayers have a place in the success story of the Aregbesola struggle to bail out the people of the State of the Living Spring from the chains of oppression and suppression which is the stock in trade of the reactionary group.

What Olagunju had intended to achieve through his fallacious publication in the media had failed woefully. Thank God, the state-owned electronic media which has largely been a channel of dishing out the falsehood does not have a monopoly of operation. The same is applicable to some of the print media being used for the ulterior motive. The problem with the CPS is that he is having a difficult product to sell. He has to resort to less than dignifying method to show his master that he is working.

The knowledge of forensic document that was initially denied by the respondents’ counsel which could not be found at the onset was not accidental; the whole thing appeared pre-arranged but which boomeranged because it pungently portrayed the respondents’ counsel as a set of professionals having something to hide. Whatever the intention of the masterminds and their accomplices might be, the plan failed to achieve the desired result and earned for their principal a monumental minus. I rest my case here.

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