A three-man panel of the Appeal Court is set to deliver its judgement today, Friday, March 24, in the legal battle between Osun State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, and his predecessor, Adegboyega Oyetola.
Osun Governorship Tussle: Court delivers judgement today amidst tension
Appeal Court set to deliver judgment in Osun State governorship election dispute between Adeleke and Oyetola, leaving supporters uncertain of outcome.
The tension and anxiety surrounding the case is building up in the state, with supporters of the various interests uncertain of the pendulum the judgement would swing.
What is going on in Osun State?
Adeleke, who is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was declared the winner of the July 16, 2022, governorship election in Osun, but his victory was immediately challenged by Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who alleged over-voting in some polling units.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday, March 23, 2023, announced that judgement in the legal battle would be handed down for the two warring parties. The substantive appeals filed by Adeleke, his party, the PDP, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), are against the January 27 judgement of the Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal, which voided Adeleke’s victory at the July 16, 2022, election.
The cross-appeal, jointly filed by the APC and its candidate in the election, Adegboyega Oyetola, is against a portion of the tribunal’s judgement. The Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had sacked Governor Adeleke on the ground that he did not score the majority of lawful votes cast during the July 16 governorship election in the state.
What to expect
The three-man panel, comprising Justices Tertse Kume, P. Agbuli, and Rabi Bashir, in a split judgement of two-to-one, formed three issues for resolution. These include whether the second respondent, Adeleke, was qualified to contest the position of governor, whether there was substantial non-compliance, and whether there was over-voting.
The back and forth
The majority judgement, read by Justice Tertse Kume, panel Chairman, resolved the issue of qualification in favour of Adeleke and held that “as at the time of the election, he is duly qualified to contest”. On the second and third issues, the tribunal held that the conduct of the election was not in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act as amended.
Consequently, the majority judgement of the tribunal ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Adeleke and issue a fresh one to Oyetola as the duly elected governor of Osun. However, Adeleke immediately condemned the judgement, vowing to challenge it at the appellate court.
In the cross-appeal he filed, Oyetota is challenging the court Tribunal’s verdict which cleared Adeleke of certificate forgery. The cross-appeal by Oyetola and the APC is being defended by Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and Akin Olujimi, SAN.
At the time of this report, tension is high in the state, even as chieftains of the PDP and the APC, as well as associates, are said to have arrived in Abuja to witness the delivery of the judgement.
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