Appeal Court reserves judgment on Osun governorship election

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday in Abuja reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the Governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola, challenging the declaration of Ademola Adeleke as the duly elected governor by the state election petition tribunal.

The appellate court also reserved judgment in the two other appeals filed by Mr Oyetola’s All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), challenging the same judgment of the tribunal.

The tribunal gave its judgement declaring Mr Adeleke winner of the election on March 22.

A five-member panel of the appeal court led by Jummai Sankey announced that the judgments were reserved after the parties had adopted their final briefs of argument.

Mr Adeleke contested the governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). INEC declared Mr Oyetola winner after a supplementary poll but the tribunal said Mr Oyetola won the election at the first ballot.

During the court session on Wednesday, in his appeal argued by Wole Olanipekun, Mr Oyetola pleaded with the court to void the judgement for the tribunal.

Mr Olanipekun said the tribunal’s decision violated the Electoral Act 2010 and judicial precedence of the Supreme Court.

Specifically, he faulted the judgment as unknown to the law because Justice Peter Obiorah who prepared and read the lead judgement did not participate fully during the hearing of the petition.

Mr Oyetola whose appeal was first heard by the court of appeal drew the attention of the court to the February 6 proceedings in which Mr Obiorah was absent at the tribunal and did not sign the proceeding of that day.

The appellant contended that what Mr Obiorah did amounted to judicial hear-say because the proceedings of February 6 when he was not in court was copiously copied in his lead judgement.

Insisting that judicial hear-say has no place in law, Mr Oyetola asked the appeal court to quash the judgement, allow the appeal and uphold the governorship election

Arguing on his part, counsel to APC, Akin Olujinmi, also faulted the judgment of the tribunal led by Ibrahim Sirajo, on the ground that the petition was based on the rerun election of September 27.

Mr Olujimi added that the petition was incompetent and should be dismissed.

INEC in its own appeal argued by Yusuf Ali informed the appeal court that the findings of the tribunal were wrong because they were based on uncertified form documents dumped on the tribunal by Mr Adeleke and the PDP.

Responding, counsel to Mr Adeleke and the PDP, Onyechi Ikpeazu, asked the court to dismiss the three appeals.

Mr Ikpeazu told the court that going by the record of the tribunal for February 6, there were indications that Mr Obiorah was at the tribunal.

Mr lkpeazu argued that the three appellants did not complain of a miscarriage of justice.

He added that the effect of the judgement should be considered by the court.

Mr Ikpeazu further said apart from February 6, Mr Obiorah was in attendance throughout and that on that day only two witnesses testified, whereas over 100 witnesses testified during the hearing of the petition.

After taking arguments from parties in the appeals, Ms Sankey reserved judgment. She said the judgment date for the three appeals will be made public as soon as they are ready.

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