Jubilation in Osun as Appeal Court reverses Adeleke’s sack
It was jubilation galore in Osun State yesterday by supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the Appeal Court judgment, which set aside the verdict of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which had sacked Governor Ademola Adeleke from office.
The PDP supporters thronged the streets of Osogbo, the state capital, to celebrate the victory immediately information filtered into the state that the governor won at the Appeal Court.
The celebration of the governor’s victory also took place in other major towns in the state. In Ede, residents stormed Adeleke’s residence amid songs and dancing.
The Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, nullified the decision of the Tribunal and affirmed Adeleke as the winner of the Osun State governorship elections conducted on July 16, 2022.
A three-man panel of Justices led by Mohammed Shuaibu set aside the decision of the tribunal, which had nullified the election of Adeleke for over-voting and non-compliance with the relevant laws.
The appellant court also awarded N500,000 cost against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Gboyega Oyetola.
The court specifically held that the tribunal was wrong to have concluded on over-voting based on evidence on the end back server reports rather than from the BVAS accredited data.
“This appeal is meritorious and it is hereby allowed. The judgment of the lower tribunal delivered on January 27, 2023, is hereby set aside,” Justice Shuaibu held and awarded a cost of N500,000 each against the first and second respondents.
On the issues of bias raised against the comment of tribunal’s chairman that Adeleke was dancing to Kiss Daniel’s “Buga” song after he was declared winner of the governorship election, the appellate court said the comment of the trial judge was though reckless, but has no bearing with the decision of the court.
Recall that Justice Tertsea Kume-led three-member Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had on January 27, in a split decision of two-to-one, voided the declaration of Adeleke as the winner of the governorship election held on July 16, 2022.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, Adeleke and the PDP approached the Appeal Court, urging the appellate court to set aside the verdict of the tribunal, which sacked him from office.
Reacting to the ruling, Adeleke said the unanimous judgment has removed the bomb planted in the nation’s democracy by the Osun Election Petition Tribunal.
The governor asked his predecessor and candidate of APC, Oyetola, to put the election behind him and join him in taking the state to greater heights.
While addressing journalists in his Ede country home, yesterday, after the appellate court set aside the ruling of the tribunal, he dedicated his victory to God and the people of the state who stand by him.
He said: “I thank God Almighty and our good people of Osun State. I dedicate this victory to God and my people. This judgment confirmed my earlier position that the judgment of the tribunal is a miscarriage of justice. The judiciary has right the wrongs of the lower court.
This has rekindled the confidence of the nation in the integrity of the judiciary as the stabiliser of the judiciary and last hope of the common man.
“I am particularly glad that the Court of Appeal has ruled that BVAS machine and voters register are the primary sources not the report from the server. This has strengthened our democracy and removed a time bomb, that the judgment of the tribunal had planted for our democracy.
“I appreciate Osun people for standing by me and my party through repeated validation of my governorship mandate at the recent federal and state elections. My party won three straight elections from July 16, 2022, to March 18, 2023. It was a resounding vote of confidence in my governorship by the people of Osun State. The judiciary has now confirmed the will of the people that I am the validly elected governor of my state.
“My appreciation goes to the civil servants, artisans, market people, clerics, students, women and youth. Osun people defended the mandate from 2022 to date.
“I commend the judiciary for resisting all pressure. Rule of law is strengthened when judgment affirms the will of the people. On behalf of Osun people and my party, the PDP, we appreciate the judiciary and the men of conscience on the bar and the bench.
“Let me use this opportunity to extend sincere hands of fellowship to former Governor Oyetola and the APC. Let’s build the state together. Let’s unite for the good of our people. The state needs leaders across party lines to join hands for robust and accelerated development of the state.
“As brothers and sisters, we are all requested to start the process of healing. Forget party politics as election is over. All members of the political class in Osun State should join hands with me to take our state to greater height.”
The state chapter of the PDP, in its reaction, said the unanimous judgment of the Court of Appeal reflected the will of the people of the state.
Spokesperson of the party, Mr. Oladele Olabamiji, said the party had the confidence that the judgment of the tribunal, which sacked Adeleke, would be overturned.
“We thank God Almighty and the honourable justices of the Appeal Court, who today affirmed the collective resolve of the good people of Osun in electing Adeleke.
“We knew all along that in the face of the law and the weight of evidence before the court, the judgment at the lower tribunal was purely a travesty of justice. Our confidence never shook for once that we would get justice.
“We, however, want to thank the Court of Appeal, the laws of Nigeria, the Electoral Act and especially the democratic wishes of the people of Osun.
“When people can no longer vote and have their votes counted, where people can no longer choose their leaders freely, then there will be trouble but today, the appellate court have corrected the danger in the judgment of the lower court.
“We are not expecting anything different at the Supreme Court by the grace of God Almighty,” he said.
Oladele also urged PDP members and supporters to celebrate the judgment in moderation.
“Osun belongs to all of us. The government is the government of everybody. People should celebrate in moderation, go about their normal businesses and continue to support the governor,” he added.
Also reacting to the judgment, the Lagos State Chapter of the party expressed happiness that the appellate court affirmed the mandate given to Adeleke at the poll.
The chapter’s Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Hakeem Amode, said: “The entire leadership and members of PDP in Lagos State are elated with this victory. It is heart warming.
“We are looking forward to getting justice in all our court cases across the country.”Meanwhile, former governor Oyetola has appealed to members and supporters of the APC to remain calm and not to be discouraged over the outcome of the appeal, saying his abiding faith in God to reclaim his mandate remains undoubted.
Oyetola, in a statement by his media aide, Ismail Omipidan, noted that his belief in the judiciary also remains unshaken.
His words: “We have heard the judgment of the Appeal Court, but we are yet to receive a copy of the judgment.
“However, from the snippets we are getting, we believe we have a potential ground to approach the Supreme Court. Our belief in the judiciary remains unshaken, just as my abiding faith in the God’s promise regarding the reclaim of my mandate remains undoubted.
“I, therefore, appeal to our supporters and party members to remain calm as we take the next step.”