Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, urged the Court of Appeal, Abuja division, to uphold the victory of the APC in the September 22 and 27, 2018 governorship elections.The request was contained in three separate appeals filed against the majority judgement delivered by the Osun Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on March 22.
In the judgement, two of the tribunal’s three members had upheld the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke. The judgment also voided the victory of Oyetola and APC.
In their appeals, which were argued yesterday, Oyetola, APC and INEC prayed the Justice Jummai Sankey-led five-man panel of the Court of Appeal to set aside the majority decision of the tribunal, uphold their appeals and dismiss the October 16, 2018 petition filed by Adeleke and the PDP.They equally urged the court to dismiss the cross-appeal filed by Adeleke on the ground that it was unmeritorious.
In the appeal filed by Oyetola, his counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), faulted the reasons given by the tribunal in reaching the judgement, stressing that the evidence led by the petitioners did not support it.He urged the court to void the judgement because the judge, Justice Peter Obiorah, who wrote and delivered it, did not participate in all the proceedings of the tribunal.
Olanipekun explained that “the judge, who did not sit, came to write the lead judgement and reviewed the evidence of the February 6 proceedings where he was absent. “Adjudication is like video watching; it cannot be done by proxy. The judge cannot analyse the evidence of a witness whose demeanour he did not observe.
“The judgement should be declared a nullity on this ground alone,” Olanipekun stated.Noting that he was at the tribunal with some senior lawyers on February 6, the silk faulted the argument by lawyer to Adeleke and PDP that it was not clear from the record of proceedings whether or not Justice Obiorah was absent on the particular day.
He argued that the judge’s failure to sign at the end of the proceedings on February 6 was enough evidence to justify the appellant’s claim that Obiorah was absent on the day in question. Olanipekun also faulted the tribunal’s cancellation of results in 17 polling units in the state.stressing that the petitioners did not tender any result of the election before the tribunal.
Lawyer to Adeleke and the PDP, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), argued that the tribunal was right in its decision to have declared Adeleke and his party winners of the election.