The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, will today deliver judgment on the appeal filed by Osun State governor, Ademola Adeleke, to challenge the nullification of his election by the state governorship election petition tribunal.
The appellate court had, on March 23, 2023, reserved judgment in the appeal after parties in the matter adopted their written addresses and announced that the date for the judgment will be communicated to the parties.
Adeleke, and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are praying to the appellate court to set aside the verdict of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which sacked him from office.
It will be recalled that Justice Tertsea Kume led a three-member panel tribunal, on January 27, and in a split decision of two-to-one, voided the declaration of Adeleke as the winner of the governorship election held on July 16, 2022.
In the majority judgment, the tribunal upheld a petition filed by the former governor of the state, Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who came second in the election.
It held that Adeleke did not score the majority of lawful votes, adding that the conduct of the election was not in substantial compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.
According to the tribunal, the petitioners, Oyetola, and the APC successfully established that there was overvoting in 744 polling units in the state.
After deducting the said invalid votes, the tribunal declared Oyetola as the winner of the governorship contest and directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return it earlier issued to Adeleke.
However, in his dissenting judgment, the third member of the panel, Justice P. Agbuli, affirmed Adeleke as the valid winner of the election and struck out the petition that was lodged by Oyetola and the APC.
Dissatisfied with the majority decision that sacked him from office, governor Adeleke took the case before the Court of Appeal.
In his 31 grounds of appeal, Adeleke, maintained that the decision was nullity, pointing out that the second member of the panel, Justice Rabi Bashir, failed to render her opinion on the petition, either orally or in writing, but merely appended her signature on the judgment.
“The second member of the lower Tribunal could not have validly signed the decision of the chairman of the lower Tribunal without an opinion”, he argued.
Adeleke, through his team of lawyers led by Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), further contended that the tribunal decided the matter without considering the totality of evidence that was adduced before it.
The Osun State governor accused the panel of exhibiting its bias when it left the substance of the case and made reference to his dancing skill and noted that the tribunal, in the majority judgement, held that he could not “go lo lo lo lo” and “buga won” as the duly elected governor of Osun state.