The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Monday, reserved judgment on the appeal filed by the Governor of Osun State, Ademola Adeleke, challenging the January 27, 2023 verdict of the Osun governorship election petition tribunal, which overturned his victory.
A three-member panel of Justices, led by Justice M.F. Shuaibu, adjourned for judgment after taking arguments from the parties.
While Adeleke is the appellant, ex-governor Adegboyega Oyetola and his party, the All Progressives Congress, are the1st and 2nd respondents, respectively, in the appeal marked CA/AK/EPT/GOV/01/2023.
The Independent National Electoral Commission was also joined as a respondent.
INEC had declared Adeleke the winner of the Osun governorship election with 403,371 votes in July last year. He was said to have won in 17 out of the 30 local government areas of the state to defeat Oyetola, who was incumbent governor.
But Oyetola rejected the outcome of the poll and headed for the tribunal, where he alleged over-voting.
In its decision in January, the election petition tribunal, led by Justice Terste Kume, upheld Oyetola’s claim of over-voting and nullified Adeleke’s declaration as the winner of the poll.
The tribunal directed INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Adeleke, and for Oyetola to be recognised as the winner of the poll.
Displeased with the verdict, Adeleke filed an appeal and listed 30 grounds on which the tribunal judgment was allegedly faulty.
In the appeal, Adeleke prayed for “an order setting aside the whole decision of the tribunal.”
Among others, Adeleke accused the trbunal of being biased against him, saying “The tribunal, in its judgment, erred in law and displayed bias against the appellant when it made reference to the appellant’s dance at his inauguration as Governor of Osun State which was never an issue before the lower tribunal.”
At the hearing on Monday, the parties adopted their briefs and canvassed arguments.
In his argument, Adeleke’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), maintained that the judgment of the tribunal was invalid on the grounds that a member of the panel did not air her opinion during the judgement delivery but only appended her signature.
But Oyetola’s lawyer, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), argued that mere signing of the judgment, and not making any comment afterward, does not make the judgment invalid.
After hearing the parties out, the Justice Shuaibu-led panel reserved judgment for a date to be communicated to the parties.