The President of Appeal Court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, has set up a five-man team panel to rule over Osun State gubernatorial election, which is a battle between the incumbent Governor Gboyega Oyetola, and Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party.
PUNCH reports that the panel has Justice Mohammad Sanwalu as chairman and four other members.
Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress is challenging the judgment of the election petitions tribunal, which ruled Adeleke is the winner of the governorship election.
The court also directed that the certificate of return be withdrawn from Oyetola while a new certificate should be issued to Adeleke immediately.
But Oyetola challenged the judgment of the tribunal at the appellate court, praying the court to upturn the decision of the majority judgment of the tribunal.
In a 39-ground notice of appeal filed on March 26, 2019, by his team of lawyers led by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Oyetola faulted the majority judgment of Justice Peter Obiora and Justice Anyinla Gbolagunte on the grounds that it was perverse, replete with contradictions and not supported by evidence led by the petitioners.
Oyetola prayed the Court of Appeal to uphold his appeal, set aside the majority judgment and dismiss the petition by the People Democratic Party and Adeleke.
Oyetola argued that the tribunal was wrong to have declared Adeleke as the winner of the election held on September 22 and 27, 2018, on the grounds of non-compliance rather than ordering a rerun election. He noted that not only did the decision disenfranchise the electorate in the affected polling units, but it also violated the provision of Section 140 (2) of the Electoral Act.
He said his complaint, in the appeal, was against the entire majority judgment, except where the tribunal held that it lacked jurisdiction to set aside INEC guidelines; that the allegation of over-voting was not proved; that the petitioners did not prove voided votes and other parts of the judgment where the tribunal agreed with their arguments.
Oyetola is contending, in his first ground of appeal, that the entirety of the majority judgment is a nullity because it was written and delivered by Justice Obiora whom he said, “Did not participate in all the proceedings of the tribunal and was not present when all the witnesses gave evidence.”
After the tribunal declared Adeleke winner of the Osun election, Justice Othman Musa of an Abuja High Court, sitting in Bwari Area Council, nullified the nomination of Senator Adeleke as the candidate of the PDP in the September governorship election.
It would be recalled that two chieftains of the All Progressives Party – Wahab Raheem and Adam Habeeb, on the eve of the election, dragged Adeleke to court, alleging that he did not possess the requisite educational qualification to contest for the office of the governor.
They urged the court to disqualify Adeleke from participating in the September 22 governorship election and the court subsequently granted the order on the grounds that Adeleke offended section 177 of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulated that candidates for the position of governor must be educated up to the secondary school level.
However, the Ademola Adeleke Campaign Organisation faulted the disqualification of Adeleke’s candidacy by the Bwari Court. The group in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr Niyi Owolade, said, “The matter in question has been addressed by two high court rulings affirming that in the face of the constitution, Senator Ademola Adeleke is qualified to run for the governorship. The two rulings delivered in September 2018 held that Adeleke satisfied requirement of the law to contest for office. It is trite in law that once a court of coordinate jurisdiction has ruled on a matter, a court of similar jurisdiction cannot entertain it.”
Already, Adeleke had tasted the first blood of victory. On Saturday, April 6, a Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, Ondo state, affirm victory the eligibility of Adeleke to contest, contrary to the judgment of the Justice David Oladimeji of Osogbo High Court.
With the dissenting judgment by the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Muhammad Sirajo, Oyetola and Adeleke have to wait for the appeal to decide whether to uphold the majority judgment or the minority judgment.