Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has reserved judgment in the multiple appeals on the Osun State governorship election tribunal where governor Adegboyega Oyetola, his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) asked the court to set aside the decision of the election tribunal.
After adopting their separate briefs of argument yesterday, they urged the appellate court to uphold the victory of Oyetola and APC in the governorship election held in the state on September 22 and 27, 2018.
Their request is contained in three separate appeals they filed against the majority judgment given by the Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal on March 22, 2019.
The tribunal which sat in Abuja had, in the majority judgment, given by two of its three members upheld the petition by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the election, Senator Ademola Adeleke and voided Oyetola and APC’s victory.
Oyetola, APC and INEC all prayed the five-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Jummai Sankey to set aside the majority decision of the tribunal, uphold their appeals and dismiss the October 16, 2018 petition by Adeleke and the PDP.
They equally urged the court to dismiss the cross-appeal filed by Adeleke, on the grounds that it is unmeritorious.
In the appeal by Oyetola, his lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), faulted the reasons given by the tribunal in reaching the judgment appealed against, arguing that the decision was not supported by the evidence led by the petitioners.
Besides, he urged the court to void the judgment because the judge, Justice Peter Obiorah, who wrote and delivered it, did not participate in the proceedings of the tribunal.
Olanipekun also faulted the tribunal’s cancellation of results in 17 polling units in the state, and noted that the petitioners did not tender any result of the election before the tribunal.
Lawyer to the APC, Akin Olujinmi (SAN), while arguing the party’s appeal, contended that the tribunal was wrong to have allowed the petition, which was incurably incompetent.
Lawyer to INEC, Yusuf Ali (SAN), who argued in similar manner, contended that the tribunal erred in its majority judgment, particularly as regards the issue of non-compliance.
He noted that the tribunal, having found that accreditation was properly done and that all witnesses agreed that the votes scored were not affected by the omissions noted in some result sheets, ought not to have voided any results.
Lawyer to Adeleke and the PDP, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), faulted the three appeals and the arguments proffered by Olanipekun, Olujinmi and Ali.
Ikpeazu argued that the tribunal was right in its decision to have declared Adeleke and his party as the winner of the election.
The presiding judge, Justice Sankey, said judgments would be reserved till a later date.