The court of appeal sitting in Abuja has reinstated Ademola Adeleke as the governor of Osun state.
Delivering judgment in the appeal filed by Adeleke on Friday, a three-member panel of justices held that the election tribunal erred when it ruled that the 1st and 2nd respondents (Gboyega Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress) proved their allegation of over-voting.
According to the panel of judges which issued its verdict on Friday, Adeleke is the duly elected governor of the state.
The Osun governorship election tribunal, in January, held that Oyetola was able to prove that there was over-voting in some of the polling units.
Consequently, the majority judgment of the tribunal ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Adeleke and issue a fresh one to Oyetola as the duly elected governor of Osun.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, Adeleke appealed the judgment at the court of appeal.
In his appeal, Adeleke argued that there was no majority judgment as the second judge on the panel, Rabi Bashir, failed to write her opinion as required by section 294(2) of the constitution.
He also challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal to preside over the petition on the grounds that it failed to consider the preliminary objection he filed against the petitioners.
In the judgement, Muhammed Shuaibu, who led the appellate court panel, held that the signature of the second judge appended on the tribunal’s judgment document meant that she consented to the lead judgment.
He said there is no law that mandates the judge to write a separate opinion.
On the second issue of jurisdiction, the appellate court held that although the law allows the tribunal suspend decisions on preliminary objections until the end of the matter, the Osun governorship tribunal failed to show in writing that it considered Adeleke’s preliminary objection in its merit.
Consequently, the issue of jurisdiction was resolved in favour of the appellant.
On issue four, the court of appeal faulted the tribunal for rejecting some of Adeleke’s exhibits marked 2RRW4 (which consists of his certificates) on the grounds of forgery.
The court held that the issue of forgery against Adeleke has been resolved and dismissed by a superior court.
On issues five and seven which borders on over-voting, the appeal court held that the respondents failed to prove their allegation of over-voting.
The court further held that the tribunal was wrong to have relied only on the table showing over-voting provided by Oyetola and the APC without giving due consideration to INEC’s voter register.
The respondents, according to the appeal court, failed to tender the BVAS machines or call witnesses and experts to testify on over-voting.
On the issue of bias, the court held that although the tribunal’s comments on the appellant’s (Adeleke) proclivity for dancing and particularly the Buga song, is “unwarranted and condemnable”, it does not in any way prove bias against the appellant.
On the whole, Adeleke’s appeal was allowed.
The court also issued a fine of N500,000 in favour of Adeleke.