By Marvellous Nyang
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has set aside the tribunal judgment that nullified the election of Ademola Adeleke as governor of Osun State.
Delivering its judgement on Friday, March 24, 2023, the appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of justices, led by Justice Mohammed Lawal, validated the July 16, 2022 governorship election victory of Ademola Adeleke.
The court held that Adeleke’s appeal challenging his sack by the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal was meritorious.
The Appeal Court also held that the sum of N500,000 is awarded as a cost against the All Progressive Congress (APC), and its candidate, Gboyega Oyetola, while it also resolved that the preponderance of proof that there was over-voting in the elections rested on the petitioner.
“The party alleging non-compliance with the electoral act must prove its case without merely relying on the weakness of the other party,” the court said.
Justice Mohammed Shaibu, however, overruled the judgment of the governorship election tribunal nullifying the outcome of the July governorship polls.
Likewise, a three-man panel of judges revoked the tribunal’s order which directed that a Certificate of Return be withdrawn from Adeleke and issued to his predecessor and APC candidate, Oyetola.
Recalled the Osun tribunal had, on January 27, 2023, nullified the election of Ademola Adeleke as governor of Osun State and affirmed APC’s Gboyega Oyetola as the authentic winner of the poll after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had returned Adeleke as the winner of the poll.
In its Friday ruling, the tribunal had declared Oyetola of APC the validly elected governor of the state, premising it on the fact that the governorship election was characterized by over-voting, adding that after deducting the excessive votes, Oyetola’s figures rose to 314, 921, while Adeleke’s came down to 290, 266.
Consequently, the tribunal led by Justice Terste Kume, therefore, instructed INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Adeleke and his deputy, Kola Adewusi and directed that the certificate of return be issued to Oyetola instead.
Though the majority verdict of the Justice Tertse Kume-led tribunal annulled Adeleke’s victory and declared Oyetola the winner of the poll, there was a minority judgment by Justice B. Ogbuli that affirmed Adeleke as the winner of the poll.
Expressing displeasure over the judgement, Adeleke, the PDP and INEC headed for the Court of Appeal which was heard on March 13 and reserved its judgment till Friday and had, in its ruling set aside the tribunal judgement and affirming Adeleke as the authentic winner and governor of Osun State.