Barring any last minute change, the Supreme Court will tomorrow put an end to the about one year legal tussle over who truly won the Osun State governorship election between Mr. Gboyega Oyetola of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Oyetola and the APC the winner of the election on the basis of results of the September 22, 2018 main election and the September 27, 2018 supplementary election.
Dissatisfied with INEC’s verdict, the PDP and Adeleke approached the Osun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal for redress. In March, two of the three-man panel declared Senator Adeleke as winner of the September 2018 election in the state. The two justices are: Peter Obiorah and Adegboye Gbolagunte.
The tribunal also nullified the Certificate of Return issued to Oyetola and ordered INEC to issue a fresh one to Adeleke.
But the minority judgement, delivered by the tribunal’s Chairman, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, upheld Oyetola’s election, insisting that he was validly elected.
Expectedly, Oyetola and APC appealed the judgement. Oyetola in his 39-ground notice of appeal, filed on March 26, 2019, by his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), urged the Court of Appeal to nullify the majority judgment, which he argued was “perverse” and “replete with contradictions and not supported by evidence led by the petitioners.”
He however asked the court to uphold parts of the majority judgment where the tribunal held that it lacked jurisdiction to set aside INEC guidelines; that the allegations of over-voting were not proved; that the petitioners did not prove voided votes and other parts of the judgment, where the tribunal agreed with the appellant’s arguments.
Dismissing the majority judgment’s nullification of the September 27, 2018 supplementary election, the appellant stated, “having rightly held that it lacked the jurisdiction to strike out and nullify the approved Guidelines and Regulations for the conduct of the Osun State Governorship Election 2018, made by INEC, the tribunal misdirected itself in law and came to a perverse decision by going ahead to nullify the rerun election.”
He also opined that the majority judgment was a nullity on the basis that it was written by Justice Obiorah “who did not participate in all the proceedings of the tribunal and who was not present when all the witnesses gave evidence.”
By April, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal in a four-to-one split decision of its five-man panel, led by Justice Jummai Sankey, nullified the judgment of Osun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which gave Adeleke victory.
The other three members of panel in support of the majority judgement are: Abubakar Yahaya, Isaiah Akeju, and Bitrus Sanga.
But another member of the panel, Justice George Mbaba, disagreed with the other justices and instead upheld Adeleke’s victory.