Alleged absence of a member of the Osun State Governorship Electoral Tribunal, Justice Peter Obiorah has resulted in the Appeal Court nullifying the tribunal’s judgment and declaring Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the duly elected governor of the State.
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal which delivered judgment today, Thursday, held that the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal erred by declaring Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the September 2018 poll.
In a dissenting judgment of four-to-one, the five-man panel led by Justice Jummai Sankey, the Court of Appeal upheld the appeal filed by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State challenging the verdict of the tribunal and affirmed him as duly elected.
Delivering the lead majority judgment of the four members of the panel, the court resolved 10 out of the 12 issues raised in favour of Oyetola and the two others in favour of Ademola and his PDP.
The Court of Appeal’s majority judgment was primarily anchored on the alleged absence of a member of the tribunal, Justice Peter Obiorah, who read the lead majority verdict of the tribunal, during the February 6, 2018 proceedings of the tribunal.
Justice Sankey held that absence of Justice Obiorah on that date nullified the entire proceedings and the verdict of the tribunal.
Three other members of the panel, Justices Abubakar Yahaya, Isaiah Akeju, and Bitrus Sanga, agreed with Justice Sankey.
But a member of the panel, Justice George Mbaba, dissented from the majority judgment, holding that the alleged absence of Justice Obiorah from the February 6, 2018 proceedings of the tribunal was a mere speculation.
INEC had declared Oyetola and the APC the winner of the Osun State governorship 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 petition before the three-man Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, contending that they were the true winner of the election as they had already won after the September 22, 2018 poll and that there was no need for the supplementary election held on September 27, 2018.
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.