Eligibility: Appeal Court Delivers Judgment in Adeleke’s Appeal Thursday

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Court of Appeal in Abuja will today deliver judgment in the separate appeals by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the last governorship election in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke.

The court announced the date of judgment in hearing notices sent to parties by its Registry.

The PDP and Adeleke are, by their appeals, challenging the April 2, 2019 judgment by Justice Othman Musa of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Bwari, which voided Adeleke’s candidacy for the election on the grounds that he was not qualified, having not possessed valid secondary school certificate.

The judgment by Justice Musa was in the suit by Wahab Raheem and Adam Habeeb, who claimed that Adeleke was not qualified, under Section 177 of the Constitution to contest the governorship election.

A panel of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Adamu Jauro, at the conclusion of hearing in the appeals on May 14 this year, told parties that a date for judgment would be communicated to them.

Adeleke’s lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), while arguing the appeal, faulted the judgment of the trial court.

Ogunwumiju urged the court to uphold his client’s appeal and set aside the judgment.

He faulted the claim that Adeleke forged the West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate he presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to secure clearance for the gubernatorial election

Ogunwumiju stated that the certificate attached to Adeleke’s nomination Form CF 001 was lawfully issued to him and was confirmed by WAEC in its affidavit evidence submitted to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Bwari.

He added that what Adeleke presented to INEC to secure qualification for the gubernatorial election was the same result that WAEC presented before the trial court when it was ordered to do so.

Ogunwumiju argued that the trial court erred in law when it ignored document, which it ordered to be presented, in reaching the decision that Adeleke did not possess the requisite academic qualification for the office of Governor.

Ogunwumiju noted that there was no case of non-qualification or forgery against Adeleke before the lower court.

Lawyer to the PDP, Emmanuel Enoidem, urged the court to set aside the judgment of the trial court and proceed to dismiss the suit, on which it was based,for being incompetent and statute barred.

Enoidem, who is also PDP’s National Legal Adviser, argued that the suit was caught by the Fourth Alteration Act, having been filed outside the 14 days allowed by law.

He noted that the suit was filed after 44 days after the cause of action arose, while judgment was delivered outside the 180 days prescribed by law for a pre-election matter.

Enoidem noted that the PDP conducted its primary on July 21, 2018, while the plaintiffs, who are respondents in the appeal, filed their suit before the trial court on September 4, 2018, with judgment delivered on April 2, 2019.

He argued that the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit, because the cause of action arose in Osun State.

In a counter-argument, lawyer to the respondents, Joel Akomolafe urged the court to uphold the judgment of the lower court and dismiss the appeal.

Akomolafe contended that the appellants did not appeal the lower court’s pronouncement on the issue of jurisdiction.

He argued that, having not been appealed against, the decision of the trial court on its jurisdiction to hear the case remains valid and subsisting.

Akomolafe noted that the trial court dismissed the motion by Adeleke and PDP, challenging its jurisdiction on the grounds that it was canvassed belatedly.

Justice Musa had, in the April 2, 2019 judgement, held that Adeleke did not possess valid secondary school certificate for him to be eligible to stand election for the seat of the Governor of Osun State.

The judge noted while the court’s findings showed that Adeleke entered secondary school in 1976, there was no record to show that he actually graduated as his name was not seen in the school’s register from 1980

Justice Musa equally noted that the result Adeleke attached to his form CF001, which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was fake, and was found to be different from the one presented to the court by the principal of Ede Muslim High School, Ede, Osun State.