The Court of Appeal has voided the decision of the Osun State Election Petitions Tribunal which declared Senator Ademola Adeleke winner of the Osun State governorship election.
But Adeleke has vowed to challenge the decision at the Supreme Court.
The appellate court held that the irregular composition of the lower tribunal, where the judge who delivered the majority judgment, Justice Peter Obiorah, was absent in the proceedings of the lower court, affected the right of the appellant to fair hearing.
The five-member panel which was presided by Justice Jummai Sankey, also upheld 10 out of the 12 issues raised by Gov. Adegboyega Oyetola of the APC that the lower tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to entertain some of the grounds of the petition brought by Adeleke over the September 22, 2018, governorship election in the state.
It held that having ruled that the claims of over-voting and voiding of valid votes being unproven by the tribunal in the 17 polling units out of 3,010 polling units in the state, the non-compliance was not substantial to proceed to compute and deduct votes.
The panel, however, did not make any order for the matter to be returned to the tribunal for reconstitution and hearing on the grounds that 180 days provided for the determination of post-election disputes under Section 134 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act had lapsed.
Members of the panel, Justices Abubakar Yahaya, Isaiah Akeju and Bitrus Sanga, agreed with Justice Sankey.
But Justice George Mbaba delivered a dissenting judgment where he ruled that the absence of Justice Obiorah, who was listed on the court papers, was not the fault of the petitioner but a “mere omission”.
Justices Peter Obiorah and Adegboyega Ayinla Gbolagunte had on March 22, 2019, in a two-to-one decision held that Adeleke fulfilled the constitutional requirements to be declared winner of the September 22, 2018, governorship election.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Muhammed Ibrahim Sirajo, however, dissented to the lead judgment.
Oyetola’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), argued that Justice Obiorah was not in one of the proceedings to watch the witnesses give evidence at the tribunal only to surface to deliver the lead judgment, describing the development as a breach of fair trial.
The appellate court also dismissed a cross appeal by the PDP claiming that the lower tribunal failed to restore their 3, 402 and 379 votes lost as a result of improper ballot counting in 23 polling units.
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