Confusion hits Oyo state especially in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital city as the judgement of the Court of Appeal on the March 9, 2019 governorship election is attracting diverse interpretation.
Both the ruling People Democratic Party (PDP) and the leading opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) are claiming victory at the court.
The Appeal court on Monday said it “allowed” the appeal filed by the APC governorship candidate, Adebayo Adelabu, against the sitting Governor Seyi Makinde of the PDP but did not declare the APC candidate a winner.
The appellate court also set aside the judgment delivered by the election petition tribunal that upheld the election of Seyi Makinde as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
However, it ordered that status quo before the tribunal’s judgment should remain, which is the return and declaration of Makinde as winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship poll in Oyo State.
The court held that if not for time, it would have ordered a retrial at the tribunal but the time limit of 180 days for tribunal had been exhausted.
According to the Court of Appeal, the judgement of the lower tribunal that dismissed Adelabu’s petition against Makinde’s election as the governor was perverse and therefore set the judgement aside.
But the Court of Appeal did not make any further order concerning the election of Makinde nor make any order for re- hearing of the election petition, insisting that the status quo as the time of filing the petition by Adelabu should remains.
Expectedly, the Electoral Acts only gives a grace of 180 days for the petition to be heard at the tribunal, which affirmed that the tribunal duly spent her time and so nothing could be done on their pronouncement as to the validity of the election.
Three of the four-person panel of the Court of Appeal resolved all issues in the favour of the appellants.
But there was a dissenting judgment from a judge with a proviso that the panel could not nullify Makinde’s election.
The lead counsel to Makinde, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), addressing journalists after the delivery of the judgment 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.”
Fielding questions from reporters on the implications of the judgment of Governor Makinde, Jegede said: “There is no implication on the return and declaration of Seyi Makinde as the governor of Oyo State.”
The counsel to Adelabu and APC, Adeboye Shobanjo, also told journalists: “You listened to what my lord said about the evaluation of judgment of evidence that when there are evidences 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 effusion 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.”
When asked to comment if Adelabu and the APC would proceed to the Supreme Court, Shobanjo simply said: “The next step depends on my clients. They will brief us accordingly and it depends on instructions.”
But the APC in Oyo State has reaffirmed its strong belief in the judiciary as the pillar of hope for the sustenance of democracy, saying Adelabu and the party would approach the Supreme Court for final settlement of the litigation.
While reacting to the judgment through a statement issued by its Assistant Publicity Secretary, Prince Ayobami Adejumo, Oyo APC lauded the Appellate Court’s Judges for their pronouncement which validated the claims of the plaintiffs in the matter before it 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.
“Obviously, the next line of action is for us as a Party and our gubernatorial hopeful to approach the Supreme Court for perfection of the landmark verdict delivered by the Court of Appeal today and, by the special Grace of God, we shall obtain favorable judgment from the Apex Court as only this would lend credence to the fact Nigeria’s democratic practice is premised on free and fair elections as well as the rule of law.”
In the same the, Governor Makinde insisted that his mandate remains intact, saying no one can snatch the joy of Oyo people.
Governor Makinde, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, declared that the mandate given to him by the people of Oyo State cannot be taken through the backdoor.
The statement read: “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 judgement 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 reliefs 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 judgement 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.”
While reassuring the people of Oyo State that he cannot be deterred from taking the state to greater heights through the implementation of his four-point service agenda, Governor Makinde insisted that positive governance and unprecedented development will continue to be the portion of the people of Oyo state through his tenure.