By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the inclusion of Justice Joseph Oyewole as a member of the Osun State Governorship Election Appeal Tribunal.
The main opposition party said it has already petitioned the president of the court, objecting to the inclusion of Justice Oyewole in the appeal panel based on the clear likelihood of his being biased against the person of Senator Ademola Adeleke and the PDP, under which he contested the 2018 Osun State governorship election.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, while addressing a press conference Tuesday in Abuja, said that the position of the party was predicated on the fact that Justice Oyewole has strong connections with the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is an interested party in the appeal.
He stated: “As a party, we do not have confidence in Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole. So the PDP vehemently objects to his inclusion, as he is likely to be biased against our party and our candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke.
“The PDP therefore demands that the President of the Court of Appeal immediately replace Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole with another justice of the Court of Appeal, without any affiliation with Osun State, out of the over 90 eminent Justices of the Court of Appeal.
“Our party and candidate holds that justice must not only be done, but also manifestly seen to be done in this matter. Indeed, an insistence on Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole’s inclusion in the Appeal Panel may confirm our fears that his name could have been deliberately included so that he can carry out a special assignment against our candidate and the party in the appeal.”
Ologbondiyan explained that Justice Oyewole (JCA) is an indigene of Osun State and he had served as a High Court judge of Lagos State and had thus served under the administration of Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the national leader of the APC, while he was the governor of Lagos State.
He stressed that when the seat of the Chief Judge of Osun State became vacant some years back, upon the retirement of Justice G.O Ojo, Tinubu insisted on having his anointed candidate, Oyewole, on the judiciary of Osun State at all cost.
Ologbondiyan noted: “It will be recalled that it took the courageous intervention of the then Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Murktar, to prevail that the most senior judge of Osun State judiciary should be so appointed.
“When a seat became vacant at the Court of Appeal, the name of Hon. Justice Oyewole was pushed forward by Senator Tinubu, using the slot of Osun State and thus, Justice Oyewole became Justice of the Court of Appeal.”
The party spokesman said it was therefore a fact known to the party and members of the public that Oyewole has a strong connection with the APC and its leader, Tinubu, and as such he should not sit as a panel member for a governorship election dispute between the PDP and the APC.
“Moreover, Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole is from Osun State. The instant appeal is over the decision of the Osun state Governorship Tribunal. Given his connections with the APC. It will be most unsafe to allow Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole to sit on the Appeal Panel. We are not assured that justice will be done with Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole as a member of the panel.”