The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja recently set aside the decision of the Osun State Governorship Tribunal and upheld the election of Senator Ademola Adeleke as the governor of the state.

In a unanimous agreement by a three-man panel led by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu, the Court of Appeal quashed the tribunal’s judgement and affirmed Adeleke as the rightful winner of the Osun State Governorship Election.

The Appeal Court Panel annulled the tribunal’s order which directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to Adeleke’s predecessor-in-office and All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Chief Adegboyega Oyetola.

The panel held that the Osun State Tribunal erred in law when it held 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 judge 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.

On the issue of jurisdiction, the court resolved it in favour of Adeleke, stating that according to section 285(8) of the constitution as amended, the court has right to entertain the appeal.

The court also awarded the sum of N500, 000 against the All Progressive Congress and Oyetola.

CITY LAWYER recalls that the court had on March 13, 2023 reserved judgment in the appeal brought by Adeleke contesting the nullification of his election by the tribunal. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also filed an unprecedented 44-grounds appeal against the split 2:1 decision by the tribunal.

The tribunal had voided the July 16, 2022 election that produced Adeleke as the elected governor and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to the immediate past Governor Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the validly elected governor. The verdict sparked widespread protests especially in Osogbo, the Osun State capital. A member of the three-man panel also disagreed, delivering a dissenting judgment.

According to the poll results announced by INEC, Adeleke had polled 403,371 votes against Oyetola’s 375,027 votes. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate was victorious in 17 of the 30 local government areas of the state while the remaining 13 local government areas went to Oyetola.

No sooner had the dust settled on the judgment than Adeleke headed to the Court of Appeal to challenge the verdict. His legal team led by the go-to election petition trial lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu SAN had on February 9, 2023 filed 31 grounds of appeal against the January 27, 2023 split decision of the tribunal.

INEC also sharply disagreed with the tribunal and filed 44 grounds of appeal against the judgment. In a Notice of Appeal signed by its Lead Counsel, Prof. Paul Ananaba SAN, the commission stated that the judgment of the tribunal was riddled with “error in law” and “want of competence and jurisdiction.”

INEC urged the Appeal Court to set aside the whole judgment of the tribunal, arguing that “The judgement of the lower Tribunal is against the weight of evidence.”

Below are the lead judgment in the appeal filed by Adeleke and the judgments in the appeals filed by PDP and INEC as well as the cross-appeal by Oyetola and APC.

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