Nseobong Okon-Ekong dialogues with Abuja-based lawyer, Kayode Ajulo on the different possibilities arising from the recent verdict of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal
The Osun Governorship Tribunal has made a landmark pronouncement that the supplementary election should not have been held. What is your opinion?
It's a landmark in the circumstance of being symbolic and reminder that our court coming out of the blue could give such ruling to remind us that, law is a respecter of no one.
Since APC has vowed to appeal the tribunal's judgement, we should all wait to know the final determination of the matter as whatever is obtained now should be viewed from an interim point. Its temporal pending when the Appeal court decides and then the possibility of the Supreme Court of Nigeria giving the final judgment. One can therefore be right to say, 'it's not yet uhuru' on Osun State Guber Election.
Does the verdict call for celebration on the part of the Peoples Democratic Party?
It is expected that any party who gets judgment in its favour would want to savour the victory. Victory is sweet.
Surely, they must have burned candles and worked hard to warrant the victory. However, as a lawyer I know litigation is like the sport of boxing. In the instant case, there are three rounds - first, the tribunal; second, Court of Appeal; and the last round being at the Supreme Court. If I were to be in PDP's position I would rather prepare for the two legal battles ahead, particularly when appeal is imminent.
How will this judgement affect the other elections that were also adjudged inconclusive?
That would certainly depend on whether those other elections declared inconclusive are on all fours with the instant case. The fact here mostly is on figures which I'm certain differ to other elections.
And let's not forget that the judgement is still subject to two separate appeals. With all humility, that the judgement shouldn't be the litmus test for elections adjudged inconclusive.
Do you see this leading to more litigation from aggrieved parties who think they were unfairly treated when their election was adjudged inconclusive?
I believe each case is decided based on its peculiar facts and circumstances. That the tribunal has held in this instant case that the supplementary election held by INEC in seven units on September 22, 2018 was null and void does not mean every supplementary election would be declared null and void. Facts are the compass for the right application of legal principles. Whatever being the case, litigants should at all times be advised to follow due process than resorting to self-help as our jurisprudence is more developed with each case.
How is this judgement likely to guide the electoral umpire, going forward?
Judicial decisions are part of what forms our law and I believe there are lessons to be learnt from any judgment. I advise INEC to properly review the judgement, not the extant one alone but every decision as it directly or indirectly affects their function as electoral umpire, so as to see how it would further deepen our jurisprudence.
Whatever the tribunal's ruling is, APC has given an indication to appeal the judgment at the appellate court. Luckily, whatever the court of appeal's judgement is, Supreme Court is the last court of instance in this legal battle.
In the Rivers State 2015 election petition, Dakuku Peterside won at the tribunal; won at the Appeal Court, while Nyesom Wike eventually won at the Supreme Court. Today, Wike is still serving as the Executive Governor of Rivers State.
As it is the common practice, status quo ante will be maintained in this regard. Therefore, Gboyega Oyetola remains the Executive Governor of the State of Osun till the last ruling of the Supreme Court. That is the position of the law, not mine.