False allegations of certificate forgery and alleged lack of educational qualification to contest for Osun governorship levelled against Senator Ademola Adeleke were today dismissed by the Court of Appeal which set aside the ruling of an FCT Bwari High Court.
In a game changing ruling delivered at Court of Appeal Abuja,Justice Emmanuel Agim chided the High Court Bwari for ignoring evidence and documents provided in affidavits by the statutory educational body ,WAEC and the school principal of the school attended by Senator Adeleke.
Meanwhile ,Senator Ademola Adeleke has described the Appeal Court Judgement as a vindication of his innocence, stating that he was elated that “his image and credibility have been saved from calculated smear campaign.
“I am happy to read the judgement which confirmed and established the truth.I forged no certificate or testimonial.I fulfill constitutional requirement to contest elections.I am a law abiding honest politician who is a victim of power mongers who think the way to retain the stolen mandate is to tarnish my image
“I thank the judiciary for rescuing me and good people of Osun state.The goal of my detractors was to paint me in the worst of image.Today I am vindicated.I thank the judiciary ,the good people of Osun state and God Almighty.I have full confidence that at the Supreme Court ,justice will be done.Our stolen mandate will be restored”,he said.
In the well annotated judgement,the judge said it was the duty of a trial court to evaluate all evidences and faulted the non-consideration of the affidavits which clearly cleared the appelant as possessing relevant qualification to seek elective offices.
The non-evaluation of the affidavits summoned by the court is a violation of the right of the Senator to fair hearing and a strange handling of judicial process, the judge said.
The judge affirmed further that the lower court not only ignored the substantive evidence that was key to resolving the issue, but proceeded to misinterprete the other evidence pertaining to the testimonial.The judge held that the authority to authenticate the testimonial was the school principal who testified on oath and attached the certified copy of the testimonial.
The judgement further emphasised that Ademola Adeleke did not dropped out of Ede Muslim Grammar school as the testimony of WAEC before the lower court proved that the Senator indeed completed the secondary school and sat for the final examinations.
As the head of the school, the principal is the custodian of the records and his testimonies and submission must be believed.Errors on the testimonial, the judge posited, is inconsequential and his qualification to contest was validated by the affidavits and testimonies by WAEC.
Admission of error on a document by the authority that issued it cannot be treated as case of forgery against the recipient, the judge declaratively affirmed.
The statement of results submitted by the defendants was validated and confirmed by WAEC which submitted certified true copies of examination legder and statement of results which the judge said did not conflicts in term of grades obtained by the Senator.
By law,constitution and precedents ,Ademola Adeleke is educationally qualified to contest ,the judge stated while dismissing the judgement of the Bwari court.
The judgement further affirmed that the lower court erred by ignoring two subsisting high court judgements ,affirming that the lower was wrong to have litigate on a matter in which a court of coordinate jurisdiction has delivered a judgement.
Other highlights of the judgement are as follows :
-The Trial court was wrong to have declared that the issue challenging the Senator’s eligibility was not a Pre election matter. The court was further wrong to have disregarded the points of law on the jurisdiction of the court not to hear the matter especially when such points are backed by judgements of superior courts.
-That the suit was therefore filed OUT OF TIME & STATUS BARRED.
-Since the suit contains events that took place in Osun especially with fact that INEC displayed the candidates and their credentials in their office Notice Board in Osogbo, therefore only a high court in Osun has territorial jurisdiction to entertain this suit. The FCT High court therefore lacks the territorial Jurisdiction to entertain this matter ab initial.
-That the Appeal succeeds and this issue is decided in favour of Appellant, Senator Ademola Adeleke.
The judge subsequently awarded N3Million damages against the respondent.
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