The Independent National Electoral Commission has appealed against the judgement of Justice T. A. Kume-led Election Petition Tribunal in Osun State on 44 grounds.
To that extent, the Osun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has commended INEC for initiating processes to appeal a judgement that frontally attacked the importance of the BVAS machines in the election.
But the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has also carpeted the PDP over its commendation of the INEC for initiating processes to appeal the judgement, saying the judiciary should not be dragged in the mud.
INEC filed the petition on Wednesday at the Court of Appeal in Akure, through its lawyer, Paul Ananaba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
The electoral body, according to a “Notice of Appeal” made available to THISDAY in Osogbo, sought an order of the Appeal Court to set aside the whole decision of the trial Tribunal and dismiss and/or striking out the Petition for want of competence and jurisdiction.
The electoral body said, the election petition tribunal erred in law by failing to consider and rule on the various preliminary objections filed by the 1st respondent challenging the competency of the petition and jurisdiction of the Election Petition Tribunal to hear the Petition but proceeded to determine the merit of the Petition.
Former Governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola, and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had faulted the declaration of the candidate of People Democratic Party(PDP), Ademola Adeleke, on 17th of July, 2022, by the electoral body as the winner of the July 16th governorship election in the state.
Oyetola said APC premised their petition with reference no: EPT/OS/GOV/01/2022, on Adeleke’s eligibility to contest and over-voting and the Tribunal on 27th January, 2023 declared Oyetola as the validly elected governor of the state.
But the appellant said the Tribunal totally misconstrued Section 47(2) of the Electoral Act 2022, which must be read purposefully, communally and holistically to arrive at the true intention of the legislature and justice.
“The lower Tribunal erred in law, when they failed to consider and rule on the various preliminary objections filed by the 1st Respondent/Appellant challenging the competency of the petition and jurisdiction of the Election Petition Tribunal to hear the Petition but proceeded to determine the merit of the Petition.
On the particulars of error, INEC stated that, “It is trite in law that preliminary objections that touch on the competency of the petition and the jurisdiction of the Tribunal is a threshold issue, which must be determined before the Tribunal can assume jurisdiction to determine the merit of the petition.
“The preliminary objections filed by the 1st Respondent Appellant were adjourned to be delivered alongside the judgment on the Petition. iii. The Honourable Tribunal ought to determine the preliminary objections of the 1st Respondent before going into the merit of the Petition. iv. Failure of the Tribunal to consider and deciding the preliminary objections of the 1st Respondent/Appellant amounts to a denial of fair hearing and occasioned a miscarriage of justice as the objections would have terminated the life of the Petition in limine.
“The judgment delivered by the lower Tribunal for the conduct of the Osun state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting at Osogbo on Friday the 27th day of January, 2023 is a nullity. The judgment is not a complete judgment of the said Election Petition. Tribunal Member 2 was one of the members of the said Tribunal, who heard the Petition but did not reduce her judgment or opinion in writing capable of being delivered on the day fixed for the delivery of the judgment.
“Each of the members of the Tribunal must express his/her opinion in writing. The judgment is a breach of Section 294 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). The Judgment delivered by HON. TERTSEA AORGA KUME J. was jointly signed on the last page of the judgment by the Tribunal Member 2 RABI BASHIR (Chief Magistrate).
“Section 294 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not admit of joint judgments. The judgment of the Tribunal herein is incurably a nullity for being in breach of the said Section 294 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
However, commending INEC, PDP in a statement by its Caretaker Chairman, Dr. Akindele, said the electoral umpire has lived up to the expectations of Nigerians in standing up to the defence of the country’s electoral system, expressing faith in higher courts to establish the supremacy of BVAS machines above any other source on accreditation of voters.
Akindele noted that the decision of INEC has put paid to the lies being sponsored by the APC in the last few days, saying mandate usurper could only try but will not succeed.
“We really do not want to respond to the cheap lies of the APC, as it is now obvious to the good people of Osun state, especially the voting public, that the mandate thieves are afraid of their shadows. It is so bad that the lies that INEC will not appeal the scandalous judgement that tried to discredit BVAS machines in our elections emanated from APC lawyers, making it clear that they know the evil they perpetrated at the Tribunal can not stand,” he said.
On its part, the Osun APC Acting Chairman, Sooko Tajudeen Lawal, in a statement, by the party’s Director of Media and Information, Chief Kola Olabisi, said there was no point for the party to cast aspersion on the institution of the judiciary as handlers of the PDP at all levels have struggled to do since the tribunal affirmed that their party rigged the July 16 election.
Lawal stated that it defied rational thinking that the judiciary, which the rudderless PDP devoted their time to lampoon each moment, over the tribunal judgement, was the same temple to which they are running helter-skelter to for appellate reliefs.
“The sit-tight Osun PDP caretaker committee chairman’s resorting to branding Justice Kume as ‘a coupist’ who delivered ‘a Buga judgement’ and whose conduct manifested ‘bias and personal animosity against the person of Governor Adeleke’ is a testament of lack of decorum, exposure, civility and respect for rules of law of the frustrated savage from Ondo State,” he said.
Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo