By Evelyn Okakwu
The Supreme Court has validated the election of Gboyega Oyetola as the governor of Osun State.
The apex court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal which nullified the March 22 judgement of the Osun State election petition tribunal.
The tribunal had declared Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the September 2018 election.
The Supreme Court in a split judgement on Friday agreed substantially with the Court of Appeal which ruled that a majority judgement delivered at the tribunal was a nullity.
The court said the judge who had read the majority judgement at the tribunal, Peter Obiora, was evidently absent on February 6, following the documents before the court.
It said the failure of Mr Obiora to be present on that day meant that the tribunal lacked the authorities to have given any judgment on the matter.
Two of the seven members of the Supreme Court panel, however, disagreed with the ruling.
The Supreme Court ruling was read by Bode Rhodes-Vivour.
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The PDP candidate in the September 22 and 27 elections, Mr Adeleke, filed a petition at the election tribunal to challenge the victory of Mr Oyetola of the APC.
The main election was held on September 22 while a supplementary election was held on September 27 in seven polling units.
The electoral commission, INEC, declared Mr Oyetola winner of the election after the supplementary poll.
Mr Adeleke, who claimed he polled the highest number of votes in the election, asked the tribunal to cancel the victory of Mr Oyetola and declare him the winner of the election. The Osun tribunal ruled in Mr Adeleke’s favour and declared him the winner of the election. In a split judgment of two to one, the tribunal ruled that INEC was wrong to have ordered a rerun election. It nullified the rerun.
The court also ruled that INEC did not comply with its guidelines on results from 17 polling units.
The tribunal then deducted the results of both parties from the declared total of votes in the affected 17 polling units.
According to the tribunal, the PDP won the election with 254,698 votes, while the APC came second with 253,452 votes.
The tribunal also said that the PDP would still have won the poll even if it had opted to validate the supplementary election.
But in a contrary opinion in May, the Court of Appeal ruled that “the tribunal was in patent error when it set aside the rerun.”
The appellate court, which had also delivered its verdict in a split decision of four to one, ruled that the judge who issued the majority decision at the tribunal, Peter Obiora, was absent on February 6, 2019, when a major discussion on the issue of none-compliance was tabled before the tribunal; and could therefore not have viewed the issue squarely.
Apparently dissatisfied, Mr Adeleke challenged the decision at the Supreme Court.