- •Buhari congratulates gov, APC hails judgment
•Adeleke accepts defeat •We’re shocked —PDP
- Osun Gov Election: S-Court panel splits as Oyetola floors Adeleke
- *Buhari congratulates gov, APC hails judgment
- *Supporters jubilate in Osogbo, Ede wears gloomy look
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Omeiza Ajayi, Shina Abubakar, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Rotimi Ojomoyela
The Supreme Court, on yesterday, upheld the election victory of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State.
The apex court, in a split judgment of five to two, dismissed the appeal by Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Senator Ademola Adeleke challenging the Court of Appeal verdict which affirmed the outcome of the September 27, supplementary election that led to Oyetola’s victory.
In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Bode Rhode-Vivour, the Supreme Court, held that the appellate court was right to nullify the judgment of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal that declared Adeleke winner.
It agreed with Oyetola’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, that the majority judgment of the tribunal amounted to a nullity since it was delivered by Justice Peter Obiora who did not participate in the entire hearing process.
The apex court noted that Justice Obiora was absent at the tribunal on February 6, when two witnesses, Ayoola Soji and Oladejo Kazeem, testified for the respondents, saying he therefore failed to observe the demeanor of the witnesses to warrant the final conclusion he reached in favour of Adeleke.
It held that it was unlawful for the judge to have authored a judgment in which he reviewed oral evidence of the two witnesses.
“The writing of and or the participation of the Honourable Justice P. C. Obiora in the writing of the judgment of the lower tribunal of March 22, 2019 and delivery of same, vitiates the entire judgment,” Justice Rhodes-Vivour held.
The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad and three other Justices: Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Amiru Sanusi and Uwani Aba-Aji, concurred with the lead verdict.
However, two other members of the panel, Justices Kumai Akaahs and Paul Galinje, disagreed and maintained that Adeleke won the election and ought to have been declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
In his dissenting judgment, Justice Akaahs accused INEC of partisanship, saying it failed to act as an unbiased umpire.
Justice Akaahs said he observed that INEC, through an officer without legal powers to act, ordered the supplementary election to ensure that Oyetola canceled over 300 votes that Adeleke led with after the initial election that held on September 22.
“INEC which is the 1st Respondent is supposed to be an umpire and not an interested party. In this particular case, INEC used its manual to cancel an election by an official that has no authority to do so.
“Even after the cancellation, the Appellant still had the majority number of votes cast and the required spread. To have pronounced the first election as inconclusive showed that INEC had something up its sleeve and it was able to achieve that by the re-run whereby the 3rd Respondent (Oyetola) got a majority of 400 votes as against the appellant.
“Whereas on the September 22, after the illegal cancellation, the 1st Appellant had a majority of 300 plus votes,” Justice Akaahs noted.
He held that the electoral body ought to have announced result of the initial election and allowed aggrieved parties to proceed to the tribunal instead of declaring the Osun gubernatorial contest inconclusive.
Similarly, Justice Galinje observed that his colleagues based their decision to uphold Oyetola’s victory on conjecture and well articulated speculation, saying there was no concrete proof that Justice Obiora did not participate in all the proceedings of the tribunal.
He further noted that they relied on certified true copy of the tribunal’s proceedings, instead of the original record.
Judgment is victory for Osun people—Gov Oyetola
Reacting immediately after the Supreme Court judgment, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola described the judgment as victory for Osun people saying it is time to move forward.
“ This is a victory for Osun and I am extending a hand of fellowship to the opposition in a bid to move the state forward.
“ We are all virtuous and we are all honourable individuals, hence, the peace in the state. My administration would focus on security and welfare of the people, especially women.
“ I thank the people of the state for standing with us and voting for our party massively during the election last year.
My ambition not a do-or-dieaffair—Senator Adeleke
Senator Ademola Adeleke in a statement submitted to the Supreme Court judgment saying he wished Governor Gboyega Oyetola well.
While congratulating Oyetola, he affirmed that his ambition to be governor of Osun was never a do-or-die affair.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Olawale Rasheed, Senator Adeleke said the Supreme Court remains the highest in the land and as a law abiding citizen, he would abide and respect the ruling of the apex legal unit no matter his misgivings.
He also expressed appreciation to his teeming supporters, leaders and members of the PDP for their massive support throughout the duration of the case.
Adeleke also lauded what he described as the high spirit and commitment of the party’s stakeholders to the cause of democracy as championed by all of them.
“In all cases, we must thank God Almighty. We gallantly fought a good fight in pursuance of a democratic cause. The ideals we fought for lives on.
Our ambition was never a do or die affair. We aspire to serve and deliver democratic dividends to the people of Osun state.
“Our ambition was altruistic. We wish Governor Oyetola the best in governance of the state.
Judgment is victory for democracy-APC
The All Progressives Congress,APC, hailed the judgment of the Supreme Court saying it is victory for democracy.
Spokesman of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu in a statement said the judgment will now allow the governor to focus on the task of building the state.
The statement reads; “The All Progressives Congress, APC, welcomes the ruling of the Supreme Court affirming the election of Gboyega Oyetola as the Governor of Osun State.
“Our great party also congratulates Governor Oyetola and indeed, the party’s Osun state chapter for successfully defending our legitimate mandate. This ruling now cements the majority status of progressive governors in the country.
“Undoubtedly a closely- contested election, we commend the apex court’s decision which is in tandem with the choice of the Osun state electorate who voted for continuity and our party’s change agenda.
“ This is victory for democracy. The judgment will now allow the Governor Oyetola-led APC administration in Osun state focus on the core business of governance and implementing the many pro-people developmental plans for the state.
The Peoples Democratic Party,PDP,yesterday expressed shock at the ruling of the
Supreme Court on the matter.
The party in a statement issued by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan said “the fact that the Supreme Court had a split judgment also speaks volumes on its verdict in this matter.”
This is even as the party added that its study of the judgment “however shows that the Supreme Court did not negate the position of the PDP and millions of Nigerians that our candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke won the election, but based its verdict on reservations over issues of technicalities arising at the election petition tribunal.”
Be magnanimous is victory-Buhari tells Oyetola
In his reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated Governor Gboyega Oyetola asking him to be magnanimous in victory. President Buhari in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina said, “The decision of the apex court lays to rest the tussle over the governorship of Osun State and removes all encumbrances on the path of the governor from fully delivering dividends of democracy to the good people of the State.”
He commended the government and people of Osun in allowing the rule of law to run its entire course, urging them as well as security agencies to sustain the peace.
He also called on the victorious governor and the ruling All Progressives Congress party to be magnanimous in victory and make concrete moves towards inclusive governance as may be necessary.
President Buhari expressed the Federal Government’s continued willingness to partner with the State Government for the betterment of the people going forward.
Judiciary is on course— Asiwaju Tinubu
On his part, All Progressives Congress National leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, commended the judgment saying the verdict is a further testimony that the judiciary is firmly on course and works in synch with the people aspiration.
He said in spite of the “intimidation, unnecessary accusations and rumour-mongering, the apex court lived to its billing by dispensing justice without fear or favour.”
Asiwaju Tinubu congratulated Governor Oyetola, urging him to be magnanimous in victory, extend his hands of fellowship to the Peoples Democratic Party and continue to unite the people.
According to him, with the electoral case now laid to rest, governance can now begin in full swing and the people of Osun can begin to reap the fruits of the government they voted to put in place.
Atiku to Adeleke: We are with you always
Former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has however assured Senator Adeleke of cooperation and togetherness in the wake of his loss to Governor Gboyega Oyetola.
He urge the ex-lawmaker to be proud of his outing at the polling, regardless of the decision of the apex court.
In a statement issued on yesterday, Atiku thanked the people of Osun state for the show of support for the lawmaker, noting that the party has a huge prospect in the state, going forward.
The statement read: “I join the people of goodwill all over Nigeria to say to Senator Ademola Adeleke, and the people of the great state of Osun, that we stand with them in good times and in difficult days.
“The Supreme Court has ruled and because of its judicial finality, the legal case is over. However, the love, acceptance and endorsement that the people of Osun bestowed on both Senator Adeleke and the Peoples Democratic Party is not over and cannot be overlooked.”
Atiku warned those who may be tempted to write off the state to have a rethink, adding the lawmaker would henceforth be on the path of political ascendancy.
Our correspondent who visited Ede, the home town of the PDP candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke observed that the community wore gloomy atmosphere as major streets were deserted while shop owners stayed back at home.
Schools in the town had sent students back to their respective homes due to anxiety over what may likely happened in the town.
Similarly, Ile-Ife was also quiet as civil servants did not turn up at work early hours until after the verdict have been pronounced.
Also, Ikirun was calm, as shop owners resume after the pronouncement of the judgment. Many shops were under lock and key in the early hours of the day. But some party faithfuls later gathered at house of a party leader, pa G.A Owoseni to celebrate the verdict.