Appeal court restores PDP’s Adeleke as Osun governor

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed the election of Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the Executive Governor of Osun state.

A three-member panel of justices, who heard the appeal case filed by Adeleke against the earlier verdict of the Osun State Gubernatorial Election Tribunal which declared Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressive Congress (APC) the real winner of the July 2022 Governorship election, on Friday, held that the election tribunal erred when it ruled that the 1st and 2nd respondents (Gboyega Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress) proved their allegation of over-voting.

The panel of judges declared that Adeleke is the duly elected governor of the state.

The Osun Governorship Election Tribunal, in January, in its majority judgment held that Oyetola was able to prove that there was over-voting in some of the polling units and ordered the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Adeleke and issue a fresh one to Oyetola as the duly elected governor of Osun.

Adeleke then appealed the judgment at the higher court.

In his appeal, Adeleke argued that there was no majority judgment as the second judge on the panel, Rabi Bashir, failed to write her opinion as required by section 294(2) of the constitution.

He also challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal to preside over the petition because it failed to consider the preliminary objection he filed against the petitioners.

Justice Muhammed Shuaibu, in the leading judgment of the Court of Appeal, held that the signature of the second judge appended on the tribunal’s judgment document meant that she consented to the lead judgment. He said no law mandates the judge to write a separate opinion.

On the of jurisdiction, the appellate court held that although the law allows the tribunal to suspend decisions on preliminary objections until the end of the matter, the Osun Governorship Election Tribunal failed to show in writing that it considered Adeleke’s preliminary objection in its merit. Consequently, the issue of jurisdiction was resolved in favour of the appellant.

On issue four, the Court of Appeal faulted the tribunal for rejecting some of Adeleke’s exhibits marked 2RRW4 (which consists of his certificates) on the grounds of forgery. The court held that the issue of forgery against Adeleke has been resolved and dismissed by a superior court.

On issues five and seven which borders on over-voting, the Appeal Court held that the respondents failed to prove their allegation of over-voting.

The court further held that the tribunal was wrong to have relied only on the table showing over-voting provided by Oyetola and the APC without giving due consideration to INEC’s voter register. The appellate court held that the respondents failed to tender the BVAS machines or call witnesses and experts to testify on over-voting.

On the issue of bias, the court held that although the tribunal’s comments on Adeleke’s dancing skills are “unwarranted and condemnable”, it does not in any way prove bias against the appellant.

The Court of Appeal in conclusion allowed Adeleke’s appeal as it issued a fine of N500,000 against Oyetola.

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