The Appeal Court sitting in Abuja has declared Governor Gboyega Oyetola as the winner of last year’s gubernatorial election in Osun State.
A five-member panel of the appeal court led by Justice Jummai Sankey delivered the lead judgement which favoured Governor Oyetola on the grounds that the tribunal’s ruling read by Justice Peter Obiora amounted to judicial hearsay because he did not participate fully in the proceedings of the Tribunal.
The Appeal Court also said that the entire proceeding leading to the tribunal’s judgement could not stand because of its “faulty composition.”
Justice Sankey noted that the matter ought not to be returned to the tribunal for the fact that it was a post-election case where time for its adjudication could not be expanded or elongated. Therefore, she ruled that the appellate court could not order a fresh trial by the lower tribunal.
However, the lead judgement read by Justice Sankey was, however, dissented by a member of the five-man panel, Justice George Mbamba, who said the allegation that Justice Obiora did not attend all the sessions of the Tribunal was speculative.
He maintained that the records of the Tribunal’s proceedings indicated that the judge did participate in all the hearings because he signed at the beginning of the days’ proceedings.
On that basis, the dissenting judge not only dismissed Governor Oyetola’s appeal but slammed him with a cost of N200,000.
Despite Justice Mbamba’s dissenting judgement, Justice Sankey went further to resolve 11 other issues contained in the appeal in favour of Governor Oyetola, the appellant.
She declared that Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who is the petitioner, did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was substantial non-compliance to the Electoral Act by the absence of the ballot paper records.
This declaration has now set aside the victory of Senator Adeleke at the Osun governorship Election Tribunal.
Recall that an Osun State Election tribunal had earlier declared Ademola Adeleke, winner of the controversial election, saying that the September 27 rerun election in the state illegal.
The three-man panel of the tribunal gave the judgement following the petition filed by Senator Adeleke against the All Progressives Congress, APC and its candidate, Gboyega Oyetola.
The tribunal also ruled that PDP and Adeleke proved that it was the state Returning Officer who cancelled the results in 7 Polling Units, adding that the petitioners also proved that the Returning Officer has no power to cancel election results of a polling unit.
Meanwhile, on the appeal filed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) on the same issues earlier resolved in favour of Oyetola, the Appeal Court in a four-to-one majority judgement maintained the same position.
In the lead judgment, Justice Datti Yahaya settled the appeal in favour of the APC and was supported by all members of the five-man panel except Justice Mbamba who held that parties with common interest should file a joint appeal, not separate appeal as in the case under consideration.
He noted that filing separate appeals was an abuse of court process which added to the work of the appeal court.
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