THE Court of Appeal on Monday set aside the judgment which upheld the election of Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde.
All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the election, Mr. Adebayo Adelabu, had challenged the decision of the tribunal, which dismissed his petition against the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate
Delivering judgment in Ibadan, the Court of Appeal Justices described the tribunal judgment as “perverse”, and set it aside.
The court held that the APC and its candidate were not given a fair hearing by the tribunal, but ordered that the status quo before the tribunal’s judgment should remain.
Makinde was declared winner of the March 9 election. He was sworn-in on May 29 and was in office at the time the tribunal gave its ruling.
The four-man panel also held that if not for the time constraint, it would have ordered a retrial by the tribunal – The Electoral Act allows only 180 days for the tribunal to exhaust and hear a petition and deliver judgment.
Three out of the four Justices resolved all issues in favour of the appellants.
Both the PDP and APC are claiming victory.
The APC said it will approach the Supreme Court “for perfection of the landmark verdict delivered today by the Court of Appeal and by the Special Grace of God, we shall obtain a favourable judgment.”
In a statement by its Assistant Publicity Secretary, Prince Ayobami Adejumo, Oyo APC lauded the Appellate Court’s Justices for their pronouncement, which validated the claims of the plaintiffs, but regretted that “the good people of the state would still have to wait for the final adjudication on the case before our candidate could reclaim his mandate.
“The verdict given on Monday was unambiguous, apt and sound enough to convince any informed mind about the genuineness of our claim that Makinde’s declaration as the winner of the March 9 poll was done by INEC in error. The results announced were ridiculously inflated and there is no way such conspiracy could stand the test of proper scrutiny as this was just confirmed by the Appellate Court
“While we use this opportunity to salute the court for living up to its responsibility as the last hope of the common man, we are appealing to the good people of the state, including Oyo APC faithful and other key stakeholders, to remain calm and resist being provoked in whatever way or form by the PDP government and its agents who are apparently occupying the Agodi Government House on a borrowed time.”
Counsel to Adelabu and APC, Adeboye Shobanjo, said: “You listened to what My Lord said about the evaluation of judgment of evidence that when there are evidence before the court, the evidence of all parties before the court should be evaluated. Judgment should not be based only on the evidence of a party in a case and if that was done during the trial, or during the judgment, that is contrary to the provision of the constitution on fair hearing.
“Second, this court settled the issue of dumping of documents on election cases, and contrary to the decision of the tribunal that all the documents tendered by the appellants were dumped on the tribunal. The judgment made it known that the documents were not dumped on the tribunal.
“In totality, the appeal was allowed. But My Lord said that because of effuxion of time that since the time for trial has lapsed at the tribunal they cannot order for retrial of the case.
“But generally or totally, the appeal was allowed. It showed that the judgment of the tribunal occasioned miscarriage of justice against the appellants.”
But Makinde insisted that his mandate is intact.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said: “There is no ambiguity as to the state of things in our Pacesetter State as far as the election of March 9, 2019, is concerned. Our party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), won the election.
“The victory was reaffirmed by a ruling of the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Ibadan, the state capital.
“On Monday, the Court of Appeal, also sitting in Ibadan, delivered its judgment on the appeal by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adebayo Adelabu.
“In its ruling, the Appeal Court refused to grant any of the three key relief sought by the APC candidate.
“The court refused to nullify the election; it refused to order a fresh election and it also refused to order the retrial of the petition.
“With the above being the reality of the outcome of the Appeal Court ruling, the election of Engineer Seyi Makinde as the Governor of Oyo State has just been reaffirmed.
“There is nothing in the Appeal Court’s ruling that affects the returns made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and there is nothing that tampers with the mandate freely given to Engineer Seyi Makinde by the people of Oyo State.
“Governor Makinde hereby urges the good people of Oyo State to remain calm and refuse to be provoked by agents of disruption who are seeking to upturn the truth, which remains constant against all odds.
“We also wish to enjoin the people of Oyo State to ignore the doctored reports in some media outlets, which are merely quoting the judgment of the Court of Appeal out of context.
“With a clear margin of Makinde’s 515,621 votes to Adelabu’s 357,982 votes, the preference of the people of Oyo State is as clear as day and night.”
Makinde’s lead counsel, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), said the declaration of Makinde as governor “has not been affected in any way. The Court of Appeal in their wisdom said they did not agree with the lower tribunal. They did not also say that they did not agree with INEC. So, INEC’s declaration is sacrosanct and it remains until any other pronouncement from the court.
“We have not seen the details of the judgment. We were all in court and you (journalists) saw that the details were not read to us. As far as we are concerned, there is no cause for alarm.
“There is no implication on the return and declaration of Seyi Makinde as the governor of Oyo State.”