Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the July 16, 2022, governorship election in Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, has filed a cross-appeal at the Appeal Court, insisting on the disqualification of Governor Ademola Adeleke.
It would be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on July 17 announced Adeleke as the winner of the July 16 governorship election.
But Oyetola and his party, the APC, approached the Elections Petition Tribunal to challenge the victory on the grounds that there was over-voting and that Adeleke was not eligible to run at the time.
After weeks of sitting, the tribunal agreed with Oyetola and the APC that they could prove a case of forgery against the Osun State Governor but held that it was not enough to make him ineligible since he had acquired additional qualifications.
The tribunal, however, held that there was indeed over-voting. It deducted the invalid votes from the valid ones and declared Oyetola as the winner of that election.
Dissatisfied with the tribunal’s decision, INEC, Adeleke, and the PDP have all appealed the judgment.
In their cross-appeal, the APC and Oyetola, through their counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Akin Olujimi (SAN), noted that the tribunal misdirected itself when it held that the certificate from Atlanta Metropolitan College and a diploma certificate from Penn Foster High School are genuine.
“Exhibits 2R.RW6 and 2R.RW9 are documents that lied against each other, as Exhibit 2R.RW9 purports that the 2nd cross-respondent (Ademola Adeleke) obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice within 24 days of obtaining Exhibit 2R.RW6, a Diploma Certificate which purports on its surface to be an equivalent of a Secondary School Certificate.
“It is in evidence before the tribunal that Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice of the Atlanta Metropolitan College is a four-year full-time course which fact the cross-appellants pleaded in their petition and was admitted by the 2nd cross-respondent; It is the law that facts admitted need no further proof and it is a presumption which only the 2nd cross-respondent could rebut as regards the factual impossibility of obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree within 24 days of obtaining a School Certificate equivalent, thereby casting the onus of proof on him,” Oyetola’s counsel stated.
Oyetola’s counsel further contends, “having found that forgery was proved by the petitioners against the 2nd cross/respondent in regard to his Exhibits EC9 and FILE D, the tribunal ought to have held pursuant to Section 182(1)(1) that the 2nd respondent was disqualified from contesting the Osun State governorship election of July 16, 2022.
“Once forgery of a document is established against a candidate in an election, it voids his candidature, and the forgery cannot be redeemed or canceled by any other document the candidate may have presented alongside the forged document.
“The holding of the tribunal that the 2nd cross-respondent (Ademola Adeleke) was nonetheless qualified to contest the election is inconsistent and in conflict with the clear provision of Section 182(1)(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The holding of the tribunal runs contrary to Section 182(1)(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The decision of the tribunal on the qualification of the 2nd respondent was made per incuriam Section 182(1)(1) of the Constitution and hence is erroneous and perverse.”
To this end, they want the Appeal Court to set aside the decision of the tribunal, which specifically said Adeleke was qualified to run for the July 16 governorship election even after establishing a forgery case against him