The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has fixed Thursday (today) for judgment on the dispute arising from the September 2018 governorship election in Osun State.
The court, on Wednesday, issued hearing notices for the judgment and had them served on all the parties to the four pending appeals relating to the disputed poll.
The state chapters of both the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party also on Wednesday expressed the hope that the judgment would be in their favour.
The state Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the APC, Mr Kunle Oyatomi, told one of our correspondents that the party did not entertain any fear ahead of the judgment.
Oyatomi said, “We entertain no fear. The judgment will be in our favour.
“The justices of the Court of Appeal will be honest enough to give judgment that will be appreciated by the entire world.
“Osun State has become a signpost for development and the whole world is watching.”
Also, the acting Director of Media and Strategy for the PDP in the state, Mr Sam Segun-Progress, said his party was optimistic that the judiciary would uphold justice in Adeleke’s favour.
A five-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Jummai Sankey, had on April 24 heard the three appeals and a cross-appeal filed in relation to the election and reserved its judgments.
With Justice Sankey presiding, other members of the appeal panel which heard the four appeals, were Justices Abubakar Yahaya, George Mbaba, Isaiah Akeju, and Bitrus Sanga.
At the hearing on April 24, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, the APC, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, urged the court to upturn the March 22, 2019 majority judgment of the state governorship election petitions tribunal, which nullified the governor’s victory.
But the PDP and its candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, who were declared the winner of the election by the tribunal, urged the Court of Appeal to affirm the tribunal’s judgment.
INEC had declared Oyetola and the APC the winner of election on the basis of the cumulative results of the September 22, 2018 main election and the September 27, 2018 supplementary poll.
Dissatisfied with the result declared by INEC, the PDP and Adeleke had filed their petitions before the three-man Osun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, contending that they were the true winners of the election as they had already won after the September 22, 2018 poll and that there was no need for the supplementary election.
The tribunal, in its March 22, 2019 split judgment of two-to-one, nullified Oyetola’s victory and declared Adeleke and the PDP the winner of the election.
The tribunal’s Chairman, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, in his minority judgment, dissented from the majority judgment credited to Justices Peter Obiorah and Adegboye Gbolagunte.
Oyetola, the APC and INEC had filed separate appeals challenging the majority judgment.
Although in the overall, the majority judgment of the tribunal was in their favour, both Adeleke and the PDP had filed a cross-appeal to challenge the aspect of the verdict which held that they failed to prove allegation of over-voting raised in their petition.
At the April 24 hearing, Oyetola’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), urged the Court of Appeal to uphold his client’s case and nullify the majority judgment of the tribunal.
He argued that Justice Obiorah, who wrote the lead majority judgment, was absent from the tribunal’s proceedings of February 6, 2019.
The senior lawyer maintained that Justice Obiorah’s non-signing of the day’s proceedings was sufficient evidence that he was absent from the proceedings.
Citing various Supreme Court judgments to back his argument, Olanipekun said Justice Obiorah’s presence or otherwise “ goes to the root of fair hearing.”
Arguing the APC’s appeal, the party’s lawyer, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), said the majority judgment was wrong.
He said the petition filed before the tribunal was incompetent as it only sought an order declaring the petitioners winner based on the September 22, 2018 poll with the exclusion of the supplementary poll.
He also faulted the cancellation of results of the September 22, 2018 election in 17 polling units on the grounds of non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
INEC’s lawyer, Yusuf Ali (SAN), also urged the Court of Appeal to set aside the majority judgment on among other grounds that the judgment, in one breath, held that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of over-voting and non-accreditation of voters, yet in another breath, went on to nullify the election in 17 polling units on the basis of “non-compliance”.
Mr Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), argued Adeleke and the PDP’s cross-appeal, which was also opposed by the individual lawyers representing Oyetola, the APC and INEC.