Court reserves judgement in appeal filed by Ademola Adeleke against invalidation of election
The Court of Appeal, Abuja, has reserved its judgement in an appeal filed by Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the decision of the election petition trial that invalidated his election as governor of Osun State.
A three-member panel led by M. F. Shuaibu, after listening to counsel for the parties in the case, said the date of the judgement would be communicated to them later.
Counsel for Parties
Mr Adeleke was represented by Onyechi Ikpeazu, a Senior Advocate Nigeria (SAN), and Gboyega Oyetola, the former governor who lost his reelection bid in the poll, was represented by Lateef Fagbemi, also a SAN. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), represented by Paul Ananaba, SAN, and PDP, represented by Alex Iziyon, SAN, did not file any processes in the case.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while Mr Adeleke of the PDP is the appellant, Mr Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are the 1st and 2nd respondents in the appeal marked: CA/AK/EPT/GOV/01/2023. INEC and the PDP are also joined as the 3rd and the 4th respondents respectively. The appellate court is also expected to sit on the cross-appeals filed by the PDP, INEC and Mr Oyetola.
Osun State Election Petition Tribunal’s Decision
The Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had, on 27 January, voided the 16 July 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 election petition tribunal, in a split decision of two-to-one, invalidated the election and declared Mr Oyetola of the APC as the winner of the poll.
Directions of the Tribunal
The tribunal led by Terste Kume 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. Mr 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.
INEC’s Earlier Results
The tribunal said after deducting the excessive votes, the figure Mr Oyetola polled at the election was 314, 921. NAN reports that INEC, in its earlier results, said Mr Oyetola won in 13 LGAs with 375,027 votes in the 16 July 2022 governorship election. Fifteen candidates contested the election which was largely a two-horse race between Messrs Adeleke and Oyetola.
Grounds of Mr Oyetola’s Petition
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.
Commencement of Tribunal Hearing
The tribunal commenced sitting in August 2022, a few weeks after the governorship election. Mr Oyetola and the APC were the petitioners in the case with Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and Akin Olujimi, SAN, as their lead counsel. INEC was the 1st defendant, Mr Adeleke was the 2nd defendant and PDP was the 3rd defendant.