Appeal Court reserves judgement in Gov. Adeleke’s suit
The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Monday, reserved judgment in an appeal filed by Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against a judgment of the tribunal which invalidated his election as governor of Osun.
The three-member panel led by Justice M. F. Shuaibu, after listening to counsel to Mr Adeleke, Onyechi Ikpeazu; and Lateef Fagbemi, who appeared for the immediate-past governor, Gboyega Oyetola, said judgment would be delivered at a later date.
While Mr Adeleke is the appellant, Mr Oyetola and All Progressives Congress (APC) are 1st and 2nd respondents in the appeal marked: CA/AK/EPT/GOV/01/2023.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the PDP are also joined as 3rd respondent and 4th respondents respectively.
However, INEC, represented by Paul Ananaba, and PDP, represented by Alex Iziyon, did not file any process in the case.
The appellant court is also expected to sit on the cross appeals filed by PDP, INEC and Mr Oyetola.
The Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had, on January 27, voided the July 16, 2022 election that produced Mr Adeleke of PDP as the elected governor.
INEC had declared Mr Adeleke the winner of the election after polling a total of 403,371 votes.
He was said to have won in 17 of the 30 local government areas in the state.
But the panel led by Justice Terste Kume, in its judgment, invalidated the election and declared Gboyega Oyetola of APC as the valid winner of the poll.
The tribunal directed INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Mr Adeleke and his deputy, Kola Adewusi, both of whom had been sworn in.
It, however, directed that the certificate of return should instead be issued to Mr Oyetola.
Justice Kume held that the governorship election was not held in compliance with Nigeria’s Electoral Act.
The tribunal also held that the governorship election was characterised by over-voting.
It said after deducting the excessive votes, the figure Mr Oyetola polled was 314, 921. The tribunal, thus, ordered that Mr Oyetola should be returned as governor of Osun State.
Recall that INEC, in its earlier results, said Mr Oyetola won in 13 LGAs with 375,027 votes in the July 16, 2022 governorship election.
Fifteen candidates contested for the poll which was keenly contested between Messrs Adeleke and Oyetola.
In his petition, Mr Oyetola, the immediate-past governor of the state, had alleged that the election was characterised by over-voting in 749 polling units.
He also argued that Mr Adeleke forged the academic credentials he submitted to NEC to contest for the election.
The tribunal had commenced sitting in August 2022, a few weeks after the governorship election.
Mr Oyetola and the APC were petitioners in the case with Lateef Fagbemi and Akin Olujimi as their lead counsel. INEC was the 1st defendant, Mr Adeleke the 2nd and PDP as the 3rd defendant.