Nigeria: Adeleke, PDP Vow to Challenge Appeal Court Judgment

Ademola Adeleke of the PDP and Gboyega Oyetola of the APC.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Ademola Adeleke, say they will appeal the judgment of the Court of Appeal nullifying the victory of Mr Adeleke at the Osun State governorship election petition tribunal.

Nathaniel Oke, who is the counsel to the PDP and Mr Adeleke in the appeal, said this while addressing journalists after the judgment on Thursday.

"We have a majority decision concerning this appeal before them, which is ratio four to one. We have a minority decision as we had it before the tribunal but in this appeal, the majority decision went against us.

"I am telling the whole world that we are not satisfied with the judgment that has been delivered.

"I will like to appeal to the Supreme Court for the final determination on this issue of Osun Governorship election that was held in 2018," Mr Oke said.

Delivering the majority decision on Thursday, the Court of Appeal nullified the judgment of the tribunal delivered by Peter Obiorah on the grounds that Mr Obiorah relied on the evidence of two witnesses which he did not observe.

The five-member panel of the Appeal Court, led by Jummai Sankey, nullified the decision of the tribunal which sacked Mr Oyetola as governor and set aside the entire proceedings of the tribunal.

The three other judges in agreement with the lead judgment read by Mrs Sankey are Abubakar Yahaya, Isaiah Akeju, and Bitrus Sanga.

Mrs Sankey noted that the Court of Appeal ordinarily having set aside the entire proceedings of the tribunal ought to order a retrial of the case.

She, however, said the court would not do so because the 180 days provided by the law for the election petition has elapsed.

DISSENTING JUDGEMENT

In his dissenting judgment, George Mbaba dismissed the appeal and upheld the decision of the tribunal.

He said the allegation that Justice Obiora did not sit was a well-articulated speculation and that it could only be resolved by means of an affidavit and calling of witnesses.

Mr Mbaba, while reading his dissenting judgment, said, if the records of the proceedings of February 6 opened with the statement that the full panel sat, the fact that he did not sign the proceedings cannot be enough to conclude that he did not participate in the day's proceedings.

Mr Mbaba, therefore, dismissed the appeal and awarded a cost of N200,000 against the appellant (Mr Oyetola).

In another appeal filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which was upheld by a majority of four to one, Mr Mbaba who delivered the dissenting judgment came down heavily on the electoral umpire for its failure to live up to expectations in the conduct of the election.

Mr Mbaba held that INEC, which did not call witnesses at the tribunal or tender any document, surprisingly came to the Appeal Court to file an appeal and even went ahead to claim that Mr Adeleke and the PDP cannot challenge the September 27, 2018, rerun election on the grounds that they have waived their rights by participating in the said election.

According to him, no serious party would boycott any rerun election when a final declaration had not been made.

Mr Mbaba added that INEC acted dubiously in the rerun election.

"INEC acted dubiously in the way it handled the rerun election. INEC should not have been put in the dock if it has done the right thing at the rerun election. And when INEC was in the dock, it shied away without filing any argument."

Giving his opinion on the cancellation of results in the 17 polling units, the judge held that "the cancellation was deliberate because INEC Returning Officer has no power to do the cancellation. It is the Presiding Officer that has the power to do so if need be."

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