Ooni, Tinubu, Babatope, Fayemi, Owolade, Omisore react to Osun verdict

THE Supreme Court, on Friday, dismissed the two appeals brought before it by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2018 governorship election in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke.

The apex court, in a majority decision of five-to-two, read by Justice Olabode Rodes-Vivour, held that the failure of a member of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Peter Obiora, to sit and hear proceedings of February 6, 2019 rendered the entire proceedings and the judgment given by the tribunal a nullity.

The Supreme Court then upheld the majority judgment of the Court of Appeal which affirmed the victory of Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the governor of Osun State.

In the majority judgment, the Supreme Court agreed with the submissions of the counsel for Oyetola, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), that the entirety of the majority judgment of the tribunal is a nullity, because it was written and delivered by Justice Obiorah “who did not participate in all the proceedings of the tribunal and who was not present when all the witnesses gave evidence.”

87-year-old Ben Nwabueze leads Atiku’s legal team at tribunal

It noted that by the record of appeal, it was obvious that Justice Obiora was absent on February 6, 2019 when the respondents’ witnesses (RWs) 12 and 13, Ayoola Soji and Oladejo Kazeem, testified and tendered exhibits which the tribunal admitted in evidence.

The apex court said Justice Obiora’s absence on February 6, 2019 meant that the tribunal was not properly constituted that day and thereby rendered the entire proceedings of the tribunal a nullity and the judgement worthless.

The Supreme Court then set aside the entire proceedings of the tribunal and its judgement delivered in favour of Adeleke and the PDP.

The court upheld the majority judgement of the Court of Appeal, which earlier voided the tribunal’s judgement and affirmed the victory of Oyetola at the poll.

The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, Juatices Kudirat Kekerere-Ekun, Amiru Sanusi and Uwani Abba-Aji agreed with the majority judgments in both appeals marked SC/553/2019 and SC/556/209, as filed by Adeleke.

However, in their minority judgment delivered by Justice Kummai Akaahs and supported by Justice Paul Galinje, they disagreed with the findings in the majority judgment that Obiora was absent on February 6, adding that even if the issue was to be legally resolved, the respondents ought to file affidavit to challenge the record of proceedings of February 6.

They said further that the findings of the majority judgment were based on conjecture and a well articulated speculation by relying on certified true copy of the tribunal’s proceedings instead of the original record.

The minority judgment also held that cancelation of election in seven polling units of four local government areas of Osun State by a returning officer of INEC was illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional, adding that by Section 179 of the 1999 Constitution, Adeleke, who scored highest votes in the main election and fulfilled the section, ought to have been declared winner of the election.

“INEC is supposed to be an unbiased umpire, cancelling election by a returning officer is not allowed by law, just like using manual to cancel election is also illegal,” Akaahs stated.

The minority judgment further accused INEC of using inconclusiveness in election to perpetrate fraud and to do what it wanted to do even when it was illegal.

They, therefore, set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal and declared Adeleke winner of the governorship election of September 22, 2018.

 

It’s time to move Osun forward –Oyetola

Following the Supreme Court judgment, Governor Oyetola said the time had come to move Osun State forward.

Reacting to the judgment, the governor, who led jubilant members of the party to celebrate the victory in Osogbo, called on all stakeholders to collaborate with him in taking the state to greater heights.

“Since the matters of the last governorship election have been laid to rest by court, all stakeholders should come together to move the state forward.

“It is time to move forward. I extend hands of friendship to the opposition. We are all Omoluabi. I will focus on security, people’s welfare, especially women,” Oyetola stated.

 

I wish Gov Oyetola well –Adeleke

Oyetola’s main opponent in the election, Senator Adeleke, congratulated the governor on his victory at the Supreme Court, saying that his ambition was never a do-or-die affair.

In a statement by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, on Friday, Senator Adeleke said the Supreme Court, being the apex court in the land, its decision, regardless of his disagreement and disappointment with same, remained final.

“Thus, as a democrat and law abiding citizen, I accept the ruling, no matter my misgivings.

“I wish Governor Oyetola well in the governance of Osun State,” Senator Adeleke said.

He expressed gratitude to his supporters, leaders and members of the PDP for their massive support throughout the duration of the case.

“In all circumstances, we must thank God Almighty. We gallantly fought a good fight in pursuance of a democratic cause. The ideals we fought for live on.

“Our ambition was never a do-or-die affair. We aspired 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,” the statement said.

Similarly, the Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Honourable Timothy Owoeye, congratulated Oyetola and members of the APC on the victory.

Honourable Owoeye, in a statement personally signed by him, described the judgment as a confirmation of the people’s mandate which was freely given to Governor Oyetola and the APC in last year’s election.

 

Osun people’s love for Adeleke not over yet –Atiku

A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, observed that even though the legal challenge mounted by Senator Adeleke to the declaration of Oyetola as the Osun State governor was over with the Friday ruling of the Supreme Court, the love and acceptance the people of the state had for the former PDP governorship candidate was not over.

In a statement reacting to the apex court’s judgment, the presidential candidate of the PDP in February’s election said he would stand by Ademola, no matter what.

“I join with 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.

“Those who think this is the end of the road for Senator Adeleke and the Peoples Democratic Party in Osun, are greatly mistaken. This is not the end. Not even the beginning of the end. No. Today marks the continued ascendancy of Senator Adeleke and his party in the hearts and minds of his people.

“They had expected that the progress and development that the Adeleke family had consistently brought to Osun will be translated to their governance. That hope is not dead, only delayed.

“I extend my right hand of brotherhood to Senator Adeleke in all his future endeavours and I assure the good people of the state of Osun that the Peoples Democratic Party remembers their love and acceptance and will never forget to stand by them no matter the situation.

“Finally, I urge the nation’s judiciary to take a pulse of the nation and reflect it. In their hands, God has placed a great responsibility. The duty to ensure that justice is done, irrespective of the pressure to do otherwise, by the powers that be,” Atiku’s statement read.

 

Buhari congratulates Oyetola, Presidency attacks Atiku over response to S/Court ruling

President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated Governor Oyetola and said that the decision of the apex court had lay to rest, the tussle over the governorship of Osun State and removed all encumbrances on the path of the governor from fully delivering dividends of democracy to the good people of the State.

In a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the president called on the governor and the ruling APC to be magnanimous in victory and make concrete moves towards inclusive governance as may be necessary.

Meanwhile, the Presidency has taken exception to the reaction of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to the Supreme Court ruling.

The Presidency, in a separate statement by the presidential aide, Adesina, said it found Atiku’s reaction “very ridiculous, and even comical.”

The statement recalled that the former vice president had stated: “I urge the nation’s judiciary to take a pulse of the nation and reflect it. In their hands, God has placed a great responsibility. The duty to ensure that justice is done, irrespective of the pressure to do otherwise, by the powers that be.”

The Presidency therefore maintained that “Many things fly in the face of logic, reason, and legality in this portion of the statement. Alhaji Abubakar urged the judiciary to reflect the pulse of the nation in their judgments. Learned people know that the judiciary comes to conclusions drawing from matters of law placed before it, and not sentiments, or so-called ‘pulse of the nation.’

“A pertinent question is: how does the judiciary gauge the pulse of the nation? Is it even positioned to do such? Is the judiciary established for that purpose, or to dispense justice, even if the Heavens fall?

“Again, there is insinuation of inducement in the statement, when the PDP candidate said the judiciary should ensure justice is done, ‘irrespective of the pressure to do otherwise, by the powers that be.’

“We see this as an attempt to browbeat the judiciary, thus causing it to entertain sentiment in the ongoing petition on the presidential election before the tribunal.

“If anybody has the tendency or proclivity to put pressure on the judiciary, Nigerians know where the finger points, and it is definitely not at President Muhammadu Buhari. This was a man who had thrice taken his electoral challenges to the judiciary, up to the Supreme Court. And not once was he accused of trying to influence the process, or put pressure on the courts.”

The statement noted that when the APC lost Zamfara and Rivers states, arising from judicial proclamations, there was no “pressure to do otherwise by the powers that be,” adding: “But now that the victory of the party in Osun was upheld, there is insinuation of pressure from those who have never learnt to play straight.”

It affirmed that President Buhari has always been committed to fair play, “which was clearly evident in the last general elections. He remains committed to even-handedness and justice always.”

 

PDP expresses shock

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) expressed shock over the Supreme Court judgment.

The party said in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, on Friday in Abuja, the fact that the Supreme Court had a split judgment “speaks volumes” on the verdict in the matter.

“Our 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 the court based its verdict on reservations over issues of technicalities arising at the election petitions tribunal.

“Nevertheless, our party stands with overwhelming majority of Nigerians on that undeniable fact that the people of Osun State, by the votes cast at the poll, preferred Adeleke as their governor,” the PDP said.

It said as a law-abiding party, it urged the people of Osun State to remain united.

 

Oyetola can now focus on governance –Senate President Lawan

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, congratulated Governor Oyetola and urged him to be magnanimous in victory.

Lawan, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mohammed Isa, described the judgement of the apex court as victory for democracy, the APC, the governor and people of Osun State.

He charged Oyetola to put behind him past events during the electioneering and its aftermath litigation and concentrate on tackling the challenges facing the state.

He advised him to run an all-inclusive government where everybody in the state will be carried along for the progress of the state.

He said: “Your victory is a great joy and achievement for our party. We are delighted that after a long legal battle, Osun State can finally settle down for good governance.

“My advice to you as you champion the course of governance in the state is to see every indigene of the state as equal partner and stakeholder in driving the wheel of progress.

“Let your reign be exceptional by being magnanimous and focused.”

The Senate President called on the people of the state to give maximum support and cooperation to the governor for the progress of the state.

 

Let’s support Oyetola, APC pleads with Osun citizens

The APC, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Isa-Onilu, implored the people to cooperate with Governor Oyetola to develop the state.

The party’s statement reads in part:” 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 on 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.

“The ruling 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.

“We seek the cooperation of all stakeholders in the state; particularly the political actors to support the Governor Oyetola administration in its bid to develop the state.”

 

Verdict shows judiciary is on course, says Tinubu

The APC national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, commended the Supreme Court on Friday’s judgment, saying the verdict was a further testimony that the judiciary was firmly on course and worked in synch with the people’s aspiration.

He said in a statement that in spite of the “intimidation, unnecessary accusations and rumour-mongering, the apex court lived to its billing by dispensing justice without fear or favour.”

Tinubu congratulated Governor Oyetola, urging him to be magnanimous in victory, extend his hands of fellowship to the PDP and continue to unite the people.

According to him, with the electoral case now laid to rest, governance could now begin in full swing and the people of Osun could begin to reap the fruits of the government they voted to put in place.

In the statement entitled “Supreme Court Verdict on Osun: Testimony That Judiciary is on Course,” which he personally signed, the APC leader said: “Today (Friday’s) Supreme Court judgment has further vindicated the judiciary as unbiased, independent and impartial.

“The court did not rule based on any hearsay but acted on the basis of the merits and demerits of the case before it. The Supreme Court and the judiciary therefore deserve our commendation for it has further strengthened the democratic process.

“On the issue of the Electoral Act, it is only the INEC, as the electoral body, that can apply the law appropriately with respect to elections. This, the commission did rightly. It discharged itself creditably on the Osun election.

“The decision of the apex court lays to rest the tussle over Osun governorship and removes all encumbrances on the path of the governor. Now, governance can begin in full swing and the people of Osun can begin to reap the fruits of the government they voted to put in place.

“I congratulate Governor Oyetola for his steadfastness and for remaining calm while the electoral case lasted. I commend the government and people of Osun in allowing the rule of law to run its entire course. I urge them to continue to assist the security agencies in maintaining and sustaining the peace.

“Governor Oyetola should be magnanimous in victory, extend his hands of fellowship to the Peoples Democratic Party and continue to unite the people.

“The All Progressives Congress must be commended for standing firmly behind the governor. Also, PDP and its candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, have exercised and exhausted their rights as expected of them. I praise them for their doggedness.

“It is now time to rally round and join hands with the government to move Osun to the Next Level.”

 

Oyetola’s victory affirmation of people’s will –Fayemi

Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, congratulated Governor Oyetola and described the ruling of the apex court as an affirmation of the people’s will as expressed through their votes in the 2018 governorship election in the state.

Fayemi, in a statement on Friday, also congratulated the APC and the people of Osun State for remaining calm and optimistic all through the judicial process.

He urged Governor Oyetola to be magnanimous in victory and extend a hand of fellowship to his opponent in the bid to move the state forward.

“It’s a great day for democracy. The highest court in the country has finally settled the controversies surrounding the Osun governorship election and affirmed Governor Oyetola as the true winner of the election.

“Hearty congratulations to my brother governor, Oyetola. A bigger congratulations to the people of Osun State, who are the real winners in the context,” the Ekiti State governor said.

Fayemi said he was convinced that Oyetola would take the state to the next level of development and prosperity, given his pedigree as a manager of men and resources and as a leader with genuine passion for development.

 

It’s a sad day for justice in Nigeria –Owolade

A former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Osun State, Niyi Owolade, expressed disappointment and described the Friday judgement as a sad day for justice in the country.

In a statement, Owolade, who is also a counsel for Senator Adeleke, said: “All over the world, especially in Common Law jurisdictions, the Supreme Court usually stand as the guardian of the Constitution. But unfortunately in Nigeria, the Supreme Court of today will rather prefer to stand for technical issues rather than justice and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended.

“Or how else do you explain the decision of the majority in the Supreme Court of today? Hon Justice Rhodes Vivour, who read the lead judgement only dealt with the issue of Hon Justice Obiora’s alleged absence from the tribunal proceedings on the 6th February (only one day) as the only ratio for disallowing the appeal.

“It is trite that he who alleges must prove the allegation. Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) counsel to the respondent, did not file any affidavit to the effect that Justice Obiora was indeed absent from the proceedings of the 6th February 2019, this would have allowed Justice Obiora and the secretary to the tribunal to respond with their own affidavit so as to know the true position whether Justice Obiora attended or not.

“Yet Justice Rhodes Vivour based his entire decision on this and the other four Justices (Justice Tanko Mohammed, Justice Sanusi, Justice Kekere Ekun and Justice Abba Aji) agreed. However, Justice Akaahs and Justice Galinje disagreed.

“They both pointed out that it is only a sworn affidavit by counsel to the respondents that could have shown the details. The duo went further after punching the absence scenario by stating the rationale for allowing the appeal.

“Justice Galinje stated categorically that Senator Ademola had won the election to the office of Governor of Osun State on the 22nd of September 2018 in accordance with section 179 (2)(a&b) of the Constitution of the Federal  Republic of Nigeria 1999.

“These two are the guardian angels of the Constitution of the Federal Republic which is the primary function of any Supreme Court. Justice Galinje stated that there was no reason whatsoever for the rerun of the 27th September 2018 election.”

 

Babatope condemns verdict

A PDP chieftain, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, condemned the Supreme Court’s judgement affirming Oyetola of the APC as the governor of Osun State.

Babatope noted that the basis upon which the judgement was premised was bad and questionable.

He said: “I condemn, in strongest terms, the Supreme Court’s judgement of today (Friday) on the Osun governorship petition.

“I want to tell them (the judges) that by basing their judgement and decision on legal technicalities, they have destroyed the judiciary in this country. But there is nothing we can do; it is the highest court in the land.”

Babatope, a former Minister of Transportation, stressed that the judgment had set a bad precedent and contradicts the will of God.

“I know that there is going to be a greater decision from God who is the Creator of mankind. What they have done today is to destroy the basic good trust of the people in the country’s legal system.

“Not long ago, the Kenyan Supreme Court ruled in favour of the people of Kenya and today, the country is reaping the benefits of true democracy. It is very sad that the nation’s judiciary will now give credence to the belief that Nigerians don’t have feelings. We have feelings. Through their judgement, they have legalised the illegal and the undemocratic regime of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State.

“But I want to assure them that there will be higher decision from God and I am one of those Nigerians that are waiting for this to happen. Chief Obafemi Awolowo had said that those who trample on democracy will eventually destroy themselves. It is sad that the lead judgement was read by a man who is reputed to be a legal luminary par excellence.

“Why will you punish the people because a judge did not come to the tribunal? Those who are dancing now must wait for the verdict of God to come,” he said.

The former minister congratulated the two justices that gave the minority ruling in favour of Adeleke’s victory at the poll. “Those two justices are true Nigerians who hold their integrity high and Almighty God will bless them,” he stated.

 

Ooni congratulates Oyetola, seeks support for his govt

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, on Friday congratulated Governor Gboyega Oyetola on the Supreme Court judgement.

He also solicited the support of the people for the government of Oyetola, saying now that the legal tussle had been laid to rest, all hands must be on deck for the development of Osun State.

In a statement issued by his firector of media and Public Affairs, Moses Olafare, the monarch described the Supreme Court ruling as the will of the Almighty God, adding that “Nigerians especially Osun indigenes and residents must accept the ruling regardless of their political biases and focus on the development of the state known as state.”

While commending the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, for going through the legally legitimate means to seek clarifications over the election, the monarch urged politicians to emulate his gesture and remain peaceful in their conducts.

“It is heartwarming to have the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate shun violence and other illegitimate acts. They decided to seek clarifications through the judiciary due to their belief in the country’s public institutions.”

“Politicians must be seen to be peace loving and  always act legally on matters of political interest irrespective of party differences..

“No one is a loser, we are all owners of the State and we deserve all the best. The judgement is not about the Peoples Democratic Party or the All Progressives Congress; it is about us as a people of the same family and our unborn generations.

“Elections and politics have gone, no more distractions, the governor  must now focus on governance. We all must join hands with the governor and his team to move the state forward,” he said.

 

Omisore congratulates Oyetola, says ‘be magnanimous in victory’

Former Osun State deputy governor, Senator Iyiola Omisore, also congratulated the state governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, on the Supreme Court ruling.

Omisore said the judgment was “an affirmation that the courts are still the last hope of the common man and no one could railroad the wish of God for His people no matter their level of machination.”

In a statement by his media aide, Jide Fakorede, on Friday, Omisore said, “with the removal of all electoral litigations, I strongly believe you will now fully focus on governance and deliver on dividends of democracy that the people of our dear state earnestly crave for and which was the ultimate reason for our coalition that ensured your victory at the polls.

He also congratulated “the peace-loving people of Osun State for demonstrating respect for the rule of law and embraced peace to reign all through.

“I urge Governor Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to be magnanimous in victory, extend hands of fellowship to all and make concrete moves towards inclusive governance so that Osun State can get purposeful leadership.”

 

PDP should join Oyetola to develop Osun –Okanlawon

A former special adviser in the administration of former Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Mr Semiu Okanlawon, appealed to the PDP and any other opposition party to join hands with Governor Oyetola in the task of developing Osun State.

Okanlawon said now that the PDP and its candidate, Senator Adeleke, had exhausted all known constitutional means to “thwart” the victory of Oyetola, the only credible alternative for the party and all well-meaning citizens of the state was to support the government in order to accelerate development.

“First, we must salute the courage of the PDP for its efforts to deepen democratic practice by approaching the tribunal to test the strength of Oyetola’s victory. Now that the victory has passed all integrity and credibility tests as affirmed by the apex court of the land, we advise that the next step should be to cooperate with the government for the good of the people.” Okanlawon stated.

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