The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed an appeal filed by Sen. Iyiola Omisore, challenging the Court of Appeal’s judgment, which affirmed Gov. Rauf Aregbesola’s election victory in Osun. Omisore, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in the election held on August 9, 2014, had challenged Aregbesola’s victory at the Election Petition Tribunal, and lost.
He appealed against the tribunal’s judgement at the Appeal Court but lost again as the court upheld the tribunal verdict. Not satisfied, Omisore approach the Supreme Court to set aside the Appeal Court’s judgement, claiming that there was miscarriage of justice in the process. But the apex court’s panel of seven justices, in its judgement read by Justice Centus Nweze, held that Omisore’s appeal was devoid of merit and dismissed it entirely.
The court in the unanimous judgment also upheld the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal, Akure Division, and the Osun Election Petition Tribunal, which had earlier affirmed Aregbesola’s election. “The concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Election Petition Tribunal are, hereby, affirmed. “There being no merit in the appeal, it is hereby ordered that the main appeal and cross-appeal are dismissed entirely and parties are to bear their own costs,’’ Nweze ordered.
The court also held that the appellant failed to prove the case of substantial election malpractice against the respondent, saying that the appellant’s arguments in that regard were mere speculations. It said that the testimonies of the appellant’s witnesses were riddled with mistakes, errors and gaps, which made them untenable and unreliable. “Their testimonies did not weather the barrage of cross-examinations put to them and cannot stand as it is settled law that the burden of proof must lie with the appellant,’’ Nweze said.
The court also dismissed the preliminary objection raised by the respondent as ‘’unmeritorious’’ and allowed the cross-appeal on admissibility of exhibits earlier tendered before the election tribunal. Recall that Omisore’s counsel, Alex Izinyon (SAN), had in his submission urged the court to set aside the Appeal Court and Election Tribunal’s decisions. Izinyon also urged the court to nullify the outcome of the governorship election, arguing that the election was fraught with irregularities.
“The tribunal identified the irregularities which marred the election but failed to pronounce on it in its decision. “The Tribunal also did not make any finding as it ought to do in respect of the alleged irregularities,” he had argued. Akin Olujimi (SAN), counsel to Aregbesola, while adopting his brief of arguments and written address, urged the court to dismiss the appeal and allow his cross-appeal.
Olujinmi also urged the court to dismiss the main appeal, arguing that ‘’out of the 43 witnesses who testified at the tribunal, only seven witnesses were party agents. “The rest who claimed to be supervisors gave ‘hear say’ evidences and agreed at the tribunal that the entries they made in the result sheets were false,” he said. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), counsel to the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), respectively, also urged the court to dismiss the appeal and allow the cross-appeal.