The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Thursday, upheld the election of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State, even as it nullified the tribunal judgment that declared Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as valid winner of governorship election that held in the state in September, 2018.
The appellate court, in a four-to-one decision, held that the entire proceedings of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, including its judgment, amounted to a nullity.
Justice Jummai Sankey who read the lead judgment of the appellate court, said it was wrong for a member of the tribunal panel, Justice Peter Obiora, who did not attend the entire proceedings of the tribunal, to deliver the majority judgment that sacked Oyetola from office.
The court noted that the 180 days allowed by the constitution for hearing of governorship election petition cases had elapsed.
Consequently, though Justice Sankey declined to give full details of her judgment, in her final analysis, she held that the petition Adeleke’s lodged before the tribunal was incompetent, including reliefs he sought therein.
She held that both PDP and its candidate failed to prove their allegation that the September 27 re-run election that led to Oyetola’s emergence, was characterized by irregularities and over-voting.
The court further held that the 1st and 2nd Respondents, Adeleke and PDP, also failed to prove that the re-run election was conducted with substantial noncompliance to the Electoral Act.
It held that the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to produce the ballot papers and record of accreditation to disprove allegations in the petition, did not substantially affect result of the election.
However, the court disagreed with Oyetola’s contention that Adeleke’s petition against his election was statues barred.
Out of 12 issues Justice Sankey highlighted, she only resolved two in Adeleke’s favour.
“The appeal succeeds, accordingly, I allow the appeal and set-aside the decision of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
”I make no order as to cost “, Justice Sankey held.
Meanwhile, though three other Justices on the panel, Abubakar Yahaya, , Isaiah Akeju and Bitrus Sanga, agreed with the lead verdict, a fourth member of the panel, Justice Ita Mbaba, disagreed and upheld the tribunal verdict that gave Adeleke victory.
Justice Mbaba further awarded N200, 000 cost against Oyetola and the APC.
Meanwhile, the tribunal is currently deciding a separate appeal that was lodged by the APC, as well as a cross-appeal Adeleke and PDP filed to challenge the minority judgment of the tribunal that dismissed their petition.
It will be recalled that the tribunal had in a two-to-one split judgment it delivered on March 22, upheld a petition that Adeleke and the PDP lodged against the declaration and return of Oyetola as winner, based on the outcome of the supplementary governorship election.
INEC had at the end of an initial election it conducted on September 22, cancelled results from seven polling units in four Local Government Areas in the state, and ordered a re-run poll.
However, in the lead verdict that was delivered by Justice Obiora, the tribunal, noted that none of the parties disputed the fact that it was the State Returning Officer that cancelled the initial election.
The tribunal held that the State Returning Officer acted beyond the power that was allocated to him under the Electoral Act when he voided results and ordered supplementary election in the affected areas.
“We hold that the cancellation was unlawful and ultra-vires of his powers.The cancellation cannot stand, being a product of illegality”, the tribunal held.
Moreover, the tribunal said the onus was on Presiding Officers in polling units where alleged electoral infractions took place, to cancel the result and report same to Ward Collation Officers.
It held that upon receipt of the complaints, the Collation Officer was mandated by the law to fill Form EC40G and submit to the Local Government Collation Officer who will in turn transfer the information in the Form EC40GI and hand same over to the State Collation Returning Officer.
The tribunal held that in the absence of evidence that it was Presiding Officers of the seven Polling Units that cancelled the results, the action of the State Returning Officer amounted to an act of illegality.
Maintaining that the petitioners successfully established a case of non compliance in 17 polling units during the initial election of September 22, 2018, the the tribunal, went ahead and deducted votes that were credited to both PDP and APC in those units.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Oyetola and the APC lodged separate appeals.
Imo: My Govt Is Not Made Up Of Looters — Uzodinma
Following ongoing report that the administration of Governor Hope Uzodinma is made up of looters, the Executive Governor of Imo state has denied the report.
The denial was contained in statement dated 18th February, 2020 released by his Chief Press Secretary, Oguwike Nwachuku.
The newly sworn-in governor said his government is made of God fearing men and that rumors of ongoing looting in the government house is untrue.
Read the statement below;
The government of Imo State under Senator Hope Uzodinma is made up of credible Imo sons and daughters who have zero tolerance for criminality.
The government is proud of such personnel who have the fear of God and are solely committed to the service of the good people of Imo State.
The rumour, therefore, making the sounds on alleged looting in Imo State Government House is nothing but a lie from the pit of hell.
The rumour is engineered by members of the previous administration and their agents who are experts in assets stripping. They are yet to come to terms with the fact that the era of looting of government property is gone forever with their ouster from government.
Because criminals will always be criminals, they are seeing in the planned review of the case the sacked Emeka Ihedioha’s administration took before the Supreme Court and the adjournment as another window of opportunity to cause disaffection.
Unfortunately, they did not know that they were only reminding Imo people of what they are noted for i.e. looting of public funds and assets stripping of government property.
Under the government of Senator Uzodinma Imo people are happy that the looters they saw yesterday they will not see again today.
Governor Uzodinma does not only have confidence in the staff he has assembled to work with him, he also has implicit confidence in the entire Imo State work force and together they are working to ensure that Imo people are made prosperous.
Those who are alleging looting of government property should therefore have their heads examined or better still have a rethink in their own interest.
APC Now A Funny Organization Under Oshiomhole — Ex-SGF, Babachir Lawal
Babachir Lawal, the former secretary to the government of the Federation (SGF) has described the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a “funny organisation” under the leadership of Adams Oshiomole as the National Chairman of the party.
While addressing newsmen over the weekend, Babachir Lawal alleged that the north has lost its priviledge in the APC following the suspension of Lawal Shaibu and Inuwa Abdulkadir who are the national Vice-Chairmen of the party in the north and north-west respectively.
He said: “This APC is funny, as we speak, the chairman and his loyalists have suspended the deputy national chairman (north), the whole north, the chairman, national vice-chairman (north-west) which is the largest geographical zone with seven states has been suspended, he is no longer attending national working committee meeting.
“The national secretary of the party who is from the north, from Yobe, has left to become governor of Yobe state as we speak, there is no firm decision to his replacement.
“For more than one year or so. A very substantial part of the country is not represented in the decision making.”
Babachir further alleged that Oshiomhole does not involve prominent members of the party in decision-making.
He said: “I’m quite close to members of the NWC, they always complain about not being carried along so the chairman of a party is not an executive president where whatever you say is, you need to carry everyone along.
“That is the essence, a national vice-chairman north-east for example, he is for north-east and there are things unique to the area which he is aware of, which his own exco has brought to him for processing at the national secretariat. If he does not get the proper hearing and opportunity to present those things they are disenfranchised.”
Reacting on the reconciliation panel that was composed to resolve differences among warring members, the former SGF wondered what the panel led by Bisi Akande will achieve as he insisted that it is better for politicians to cut their losses and nurse their wounds rather than be reconciled.
Babachir Lawal said, “In politics, sometimes it is better not to reconcile, somebody must lose out.
“First of all there has to be confidence restored in the NWC that they capacity to be impartial and fair in the decisions they take on behalf of party members. As I speak I don’t think there is any APC member that can confidently tell you that he expects the NWC to be fair and just in some of the cases because we lost election on account of this.”
Bayelsa: Keyamo Hails Supreme Court Verdict, Blames APC For Lyon’s Loss
Festus Keyamo, the minister of state for labour and employment, has blamed the All Progressives Congress (APC) for losing to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa state.
Recall that the Supreme Court on Thursday sacked David Lyon and Sen. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, as the governor and deputy elect in the Nov. 16, 2019 governorship election in the state.
Keyamo who made this known on Thursday, February 14, while reacting to the apex court judgment on the election in the state, commended the court for being firm and resolute.
“The S/Court has been firm & resolute so far regarding pre-election cases & Election Petitions. I commend their lordship.
“As a party, we have to look at our own internal mechanisms that make us give our victories needlessly away to the opposition & take appropriate actions,” Keyamo wrote on Twitter.