Nigeria: Confusion Trails Appeal Court Ruling On Oyo Governorship

12 November 2019

Ibadan — The Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, yesterday gave a confusing judgement on a case filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adebayo Adelabu, challenging the judgement of the election petition tribunal in favour of the incumbent governor, Seyi Makinde, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The appellate court ordered that status quo of the outcome of the tribunal remained, which is the return and declaration of Makinde as winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship poll in the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The court further said time was not on its side, hence, it would have ordered a re-trial at the lower court, but the 180 days set aside for the tribunal had been exhausted.

The five-man committee which had four in attendance further said the judgement of the lower court that dismissed Adelabu's petition against Makinde's election as governor was perverse and therefore set the judgement aside.

Three of the four-man panel of the Court of Appeal resolved all issues in favour of the appellants. But there was a dissenting judgment from a judge with a provision that the panel could not nullify Makinde's election.

Meanwhile, the lead counsel to Makinde, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), told journalists after the delivery of the judgment that the declaration of Makinde as governor "has not been affected in any way.

"The Court of Appeal in their wisdom said they did not agree with the lower tribunal. They did not also say that they did not agree with INEC. So, INEC's declaration is sacrosanct and it remains until any other pronouncement from the court.

"We have not seen the details of the judgment. We were all in court and you (journalists) saw that the details were not read to us. As far as we are concerned, there is no cause for alarm."

Fielding questions from reporters on the implications of the judgment of Governor Makinde, Jegede said: "There is no implication on the return and declaration of Seyi Makinde as the governor of Oyo State."

The counsel to Adelabu and APC, Adeboye Shobanjo, also told journalists: "You listened to what my lord said about the evaluation of judgment of evidence that when there are evidence before the court, the evidence of all parties before the court should be evaluated. Judgment should not be based only on the evidence of a party in a case and if that was done during the trial, or during the judgment, that is contrary to the provision of the constitution on fair hearing.

"Second, this court settled the issue of dumping of documents on election cases, and contrary to the decision of the tribunal that all the documents tendered by the appellants were dumped on the tribunal. The judgment made it known that the documents were not dumped on the tribunal.

"In totality, the appeal was allowed. But my lord said that because of effusion of time, that since the time for trial has lapsed at the tribunal, they cannot order for retrial of the case.

"But generally or totally, the appeal was allowed. It showed that the judgment of the tribunal occasioned miscarriage of justice against the appellants."

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