ADELEKE: HOW SUPREME COURT’S DECISION TODAY WILL SHAPE TINUBU/OBI/ATIKU VERDICT
The Supreme Court will today at 2.00 pm deliver judgment in the disputed July 16, 2022 governorship election in Osun State between incumbent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, and All Progressives Party (APC) contender, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola.
The apex court fixed the period for the judgment after taking arguments from parties on an appeal filed by Oyetola and APC, with Adeleke, PDP and INEC as respondents.
CITY LAWYER recalls that Oyetola had brought a petition against the declaration of incumbent Osun State Governor Ademola Adeleke as winner of the governorship election. While the tribunal in a split two-to-one decision held that Oyetola won majority of the lawful votes cast in the election, Adeleke and INEC challenged the tribunal’s decision, saying that it erred in law.
Today’s decision by the apex court may set the tone for the potential outcome of the petitIons filed by several political parties and their candidates at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT). Notably, Mr. Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are challenging the declaration of Senator Bola Tinubu of All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the February 25, 2023 presidential election.
The Court of Appeal had unanimously held that the Osun State Tribunal erred in law when it decided that there was over-voting during the election, saying the claim only relied on the evidence by Oyetola and the APC and as such, doesn’t prove their case.
The court faulted Oyetola and APC for relying only on the data from the back-end server and failing to look at the voters’ register which forms the foundation of the whole electoral process. It held that as such, the respondents could not sustain their allegation of over-voting. The position of the apex court today on the subject will lay the precedent for lower courts to follow.
Oyetola had appealed to the apex court in the lawsuit marked as SC/CV/510/2023. He urged the apex court to upturn the decision of the Court of Appeal. In the appeal brought on Oyetola’s behalf by his Lead Counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, the appellant formulated eight issues among which is “Whether the court below was right in declaring as nullity the judgment of the Tribunal delivered on 27th January 2023 notwithstanding the earlier resolution of the same Court that Section 294(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is inapplicable to a Tribunal.”
He urged the apex court to determine whether the appellate court was right “in declaring as nullity the judgment of the tribunal delivered on January 27 notwithstanding the earlier resolution of the same court that Section 294(1) of the Constitution is inapplicable to a tribunal”. He also urged the court to decide whether the lower court was right in concluding that the appellants did not prove the allegation of over-voting in favour of Adeleke.
But INEC had through its Lead Counsel, Prof. Paul Ananaba SAN filed an unprecedented 34 grounds of appeal against the decision of the tribunal, leading to a reversal by the appellate court.
The commission, in a certified copy of the Cross Appeal obtained by CITY LAWYER and filed on its behalf by Ananaba, urged the apex court “to allow this Cross-Appeal, and also set aside the decision of the Tribunal delivered on 27th January 2023 on the ground that the judgment of the Honourable Tribunal delivered on 27th January 2023 by Hon. Justice T. A. Kume and signed by Rabi Bashir (CM) is not in compliance with the provisions of section 294(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and amounts to a nullity.
“We further urge your Lordships to reject the said Exhibits RC1, RC2, BVR, PUBL 1-3 and CER in evidence and expunge them from the record of the Honourable Tribunal.”
INEC distilled two issues for the determination of the Supreme Court, namely “Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right in holding that the judgment of the Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal delivered on 27th January 2023 by Hon. Justice T. A. Kume and signed by Rabi Bashir (Chief Magistrate) on the same page is not a nullity (Distilled from Ground 1 of the Notice of Appeal).”
The commission also urged the Supreme Court to determine whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right “in upholding the decision of the Tribunal not to have rejected in evidence Exhibits RC1, RC2 and BVR, Exhibits SCH1, SCH2, SCH3 and Exhibit PUBL 1-3 tendered by the 1st and 2nd Cross-Respondents (Distilled from Ground 2 of the Notice of Appeal).”
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