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Adeleke Vs Oyetola: Appeal Court Reserves Judgement In Osun Guber Poll

The Court of Appeal, Akure, has reserved judgment in an appeal filed by Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State, challenging the January 27, 2023 decision of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which sacked him from office.

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal Justices led by Mohamed Lawal Shuaibu, reserved judgment on the appeal by Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after hearing various Counsels in the matter.

The Election Petitions Tribunal had sacked Adeleke and consequently directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to him and issue a fresh one to Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected governor of Osun State in the July 16, 2022 election.

The Tribunal held that Adeleke did not score the majority of lawful votes during the July 16, 2022 governorship election in the State.

Adeleke, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was declared the winner of the governorship poll held on July 16.

Recall that, not satisfied with the outcome of the poll, Oyetola, the former Osun governor and his party, APC in August 2022 petitioned the Tribunal to challenge the victory of Adeleke on the grounds that Adeleke did not qualify to contest the election and that there was over-voting in 749 polling units across 10 local government areas of the State.

In the judgement of the Tribuna, two out of the three-member panel held that Oyetola was able to prove that there was indeed over-voting in some of the polling units.

However, In the 31 grounds of appeal filed against the tribunal judgment at the Akure Divisionof the Courtof Appeal, Adeleke prayed for “an order setting aside the whole decision of the tribunal”.

He also 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”.

Adeleke  argued that “The second respondent cannot ‘go lo lo lo lo’ and ‘buga won’ as the duly elected governor of Osun state.

“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,” Adeleke noted.

“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.”

Adopting a brief on Monday, Counsel to Adeleke, Onyechi Ikpeazu, submitted that the case of over voting was only recorded in 6 polling units, contrary to the 744 claimed by the tribunal.

Ikpeazu  argued that a member of the panel,  who is also a chief magistrate, did not air her opinion during the tribunal Judgement. He added that the constitution mandates her to have aired her views about the suit rather than just appending her signature.

On his part, Counsel to Oyetola, Lateef Fagbemi 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 6 polling units as claimed by the Appellant, adding that the anomaly was experienced in 744 polling units across the state.



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