Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Court of Appeal in Abuja will on Friday give its decision on the authentic winner of last year’s governorship election in Osun State.
A three-member panel of the court had on March 13, reserved its judgment in the appeal filed by Osun State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, against his ordered removal from office on grounds that he did not score majority of valid votes cast at the poll.
Justice M.F. Shuaibu had, at the last sitting, announced that they have reserved judgment to a date that would be communicated to parties shortly after lawyers adopted and argued their briefs of argument for and against the suit.
However, 10 days after, THISDAY gathered that the court had reached the parties in the case, informing them that judgment would be delivered on Friday, March 24, 2023.
While Adeleke, represented by Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), had at the hearing adduced reasons why the appellate court should set aside the judgment of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that nullified his victory in last year’s poll for erring in law, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), who represented the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Gboyega Oyetola, argued otherwise.
At the end of arguments however, Justice Shuaibu announced before the court that judgment would be delivered on a date that would be communicated to the parties.
While Adeleke is the appellant in the appeal: marked CA/AK/EPT/GOV/01/2023, Oyetola, APC, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are the first to fourth respondents respectively.
Adeleke had, on February 9th, appealed the judgment of the Osun State Governorship Tribunal which nullified his election.
The tribunal had ruled in favour of Oyetola. While delivering the judgment, two out of the three-member panel of the tribunal held that Oyetola proved that there was over-voting in some of the polling units.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Tertsea Kume, who read the majority judgment, disclosed that the excess votes were deducted following which Oyetola won the election.
According to Justice Kume, having deducted the over-voting figure, Oyetola scored 314,921, while Ademola polled 290,266 votes.
Adeleke in the 31 grounds of appeal prayed the court for “an order setting aside the whole decision of the tribunal”.
The governor equally sought “an order striking out the petition for want of competence and jurisdiction or in the alternative, an order dismissing the petition on the merit”.
“The tribunal, in its judgment, erred in law and displayed bias against the appellant when it made reference to the appellant’s dance at his inauguration as governor of Osun State which was never an issue before the lower tribunal,” Adeleke noted.
“By referring to the appellant’s personal eccentricity for dancing, the lower tribunal derided and mocked him in a manner suggesting that it was biased against him.
“The appearance of bias manifests in the reference to the appellant’s proclivity for dancing and particularly the Buga song, has rendered the decision of the lower Tribunal a nullity.”
Justice Kume had, while delivering the judgment, said: “The second respondent cannot ‘go lo lo lo lo’ and ‘buga won’ as the duly elected governor of Osun State,” the governor said.
“The tribunal in its judgment erred in law in returning the 1st respondent as the duly elected candidate without due regard to the enormity of the voters in the units where the results were cancelled for over-voting,” he said.