Osun Governorship: Why Appeal Court Reversed the Election Tribunal’s Decision
Osun Governorship election appeal court judgement.
The Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the Osun governorship election tribunal, which declared former governor Adegboyega Oyetola to be the duly elected governor of Osun State in the 16 July governorship election.
In a swift response, the state governor, Ademola Adeleke, credited God and the people of Osun State with his victory.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja reversed the decision of the Osun State governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which declared Senator Ademola Adeleke ineligible for the position of governor of Osun State.
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The Appellate Court confirmed Adeleke as the winner of the state’s July 2022 governorship election.
Friday, a three-member panel of Justices ruled in the appeal filed by Adeleke that the Tribunal erred when it ruled that the first and second respondents (Gboyega Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress) proved their claim of over-voting in the July 2022 election.
Adeleke filed 31 grounds of appeal contesting the nullification of his electoral mandate and its transfer to former governor Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress. The appellate court rendered its decision in response to Adeleke’s appeal.
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The Peoples Democratic Party’s Adeleke had won the election held on 16 July 2022, but the tribunal voided the result on the grounds of overvoting.
Oyetola and his party, APC, petitioned the tribunal in August 2022 to contest Adeleke’s victory on the grounds that he was ineligible to run and that there was overvoting in 749 polling units across 10 local government areas in the state.
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Consequently, a three-member panel of the tribunal ordered Adeleke’s dismissal and directed the Independent National Electoral Commission to revoke his certificate of return and issue a new one to Oyetola.
The court determined that Adeleke did not receive the majority of valid votes in the 16 July governorship election.
In a split decision, two of the three members of the tribunal’s panel determined that Oyetola provided substantial evidence that there was in fact overvoting in some polling units.
Adeleke, the PDP, and INEC, all aggrieved by the tribunal’s ruling, petitioned the appellate court for redress.
What Osun Governorship election appeal court judgement says?
The panel led by Justice Mohamed Lawal Shuaibu ruled on Friday that the tribunal committed an error of law by failing to address the issues raised by Adeleke in his preliminary objection to Oyetola’s petition.
Justice Shuaibu added that Oyetola and the APC, the petitioners before the tribunal, did not provide sufficient evidence to support their claims of overvoting and noncompliance with the Electoral Act.
The panel determined that it was improper for Oyetola and APC to allege voting irregularities based solely on a report from INEC’s back end server without providing evidence, a BVAS device, a voter register, and result collation forms to support their claims.
In addition, the court determined that the tribunal erred in relying on the table generated by the back end server rather than the data contained in the BVAS device.
In contrast, the panel ruled against the appellant on the issue of certification of court processes as mandated by law.
The court noted that there was evidence that the respondents paid the required fees for certification of the court documents, insisting that failure to pay within the allotted time cannot invalidate the documents’ legality.
On the issue of bias raised by Adeleke against the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Shuaibu, who strongly condemned the panelist’s statements, stated that they had no effect or influence on the outcome of the tribunal’s decision.
“Overall, the appeal is meritorious and is therefore granted.
“The first and second respondents shall each pay N500,000 in costs to the appellant,” held the panel.
While adopting Adeleke’s brief of argument, Adeleke’s solicitor, Onyechi Ikpeazu, argued that a member of the panel who is also a chief magistrate did not express her opinion during the reading of the verdict.
Ikpeazu insisted that the panellist merely appended her signature, and that the constitution requires her to make her opinions regarding the lawsuit public.
Ikpeazu argued that not making a comment but rather greeting counsel in the matter did not indicate that she agreed with the verdict.
However, in its ruling, the three-person panel determined that, in accordance with section 294 of the 1999 Constitution, the law requires that a Justice of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal write a ruling, noting that by signing the ruling, the panellist fully adopted the ruling.
Counsel for Oyetola, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, argued that in the tribunal’s records, it was clearly stated, “Judgment of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.”
Fagbemi ruled that Oyetola’s victory by a split decision of two to one is not invalidated by Oyetola’s signature on the judgement and his subsequent silence.
He noted that the case of overvoting exceeded the appellant’s claim of 6 polling units, insisting that electoral fraud occurred in 744 polling units throughout the state.
Adeleke Dedicates His Appellate Court Win To God And The Osun People
Adeleke, in a statement he personally signed in response to the verdict, said, “I thank God Almighty and the good people of Osun State. This victory is dedicated to God and my people. This ruling validated my earlier assertion that the Tribunal’s decision is a miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court has rectified the errors of the lower Court. This has rekindled the nation’s faith in the integrity of the judiciary as its stabilising force and the last hope of the average citizen.
“I am especially pleased that the Court of Appeals has ruled that the BVAS machine and voter registration are the primary sources and not the server report. This has bolstered our democracy and defused the time bomb that the Tribunal’s ruling had planted for our democracy.
“I am grateful to the people of Osun for reaffirming my governorship mandate multiple times in the most recent federal and state elections. My party won three consecutive elections between July 16, 2022 and March 18, 2023. The people of Osun state gave me a resounding vote of confidence in my ability to serve as governor. The judiciary has now confirmed that I am the legitimately elected governor of my state, in accordance with the will of the people.
“I applaud the judiciary’s resistance to all pressure. The rule of law is bolstered when judicial decisions affirm the will of the people. On behalf of the people of Osun and my political party, the PDP, we appreciate the judiciary and the men of integrity who serve on the bar and the bench.
“Permit me to use this occasion to extend sincere hands of friendship to former Governor Oyetola and the APC. Let’s construct the state jointly. Let’s come together for the sake of our people. For robust and expedited development of the state, it is essential that leaders from all parties work together.
Adeleke, who extended his olive hands further, urged those he called his brothers and sisters to begin the process of healing, to forget about party politics now that the election is over, and to join hands with him to take Osun State to greater heights.
Oyetola Identifies Reasons To Approach The Supreme Court
Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, the former governor of Osun, has urged members and supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to remain calm and not be disheartened by the outcome of Friday’s appeal, stating that his unwavering faith in God to reclaim his mandate remains unshaken.
In a statement released by his media aide, Ismail Omipidan, Oyetola expressed his unwavering faith in the judicial system in response to the Appeal Court’s ruling that reversed the Tribunal’s initial decision to dismiss Governor Ademola Adeleke.
He continued, “We have heard the decision of the Appellate Court, but we have not yet received a copy.”
“However, based on the snippets we are receiving, we believe we have probable cause to petition the Supreme Court. Our faith in the judiciary remains unshaken, as does my unwavering faith in God’s promise regarding the restoration of my authority.
Oyetola added, “I therefore urge our supporters and party members to remain calm as we take the next step.”