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A’ Court reserves judgement on Osun gov’ship appeal

The Appeal Court, on Monday, reserved judgement to decide on the case by incumbent Governor Ademola Adeleke challenging the decision of an Election Petition Tribunal which nullified his victory in the Osun State governorship election.

A three-member panel led by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu fixed the date to decide on the matter after taking the argument and adopting the briefs of all parties in the suit.

During proceedings, on Monday, Counsel to Adeleke, Mr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, held that a member of the panel, who is also a Chief Magistrate, did not air her opinion during the judgement delivery. Rather, she only appended her signature and the constitution mandates her to have aired her views about the suit.

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Counsel to Mr. Oyetola, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, however, held that mere signing of the judgment and not making any comment afterwards does not make the judgment invalid.

He noted that the case of over-voting exceeded six Polling Units as claimed by the Appellant, adding that the anomaly was experienced in 744 Polling Units across the state.

Governor Adeleke who is candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had won the said election held on 16 July, 2022, the result which was nullified on the grounds of over-voting.

Adeleke had, in February 2023, appealed the judgement of the Osun State Governorship Tribunal which nullified his election.

The Tribunal ruled in favour of former Governor Gboyega Oyetola. While delivering the judgement, 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.

But incumbent Governor Adeleke swiftly rejected the ruling and described it as a ‘miscarriage of justice’.

Weeks later, the governor filed an appeal before the Akure division of the Court of Appeal.

In the 31 grounds of appeal filed on Wednesday, Adeleke prayed the court for “an order setting aside the whole decision of the tribunal”.

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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 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 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.

“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.

“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 overvoting,” Adeleke noted.