A Court of Appeal in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Monday, upheld the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adebayo Adelabu, against Governor Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The court, consequently, set aside the tribunal judgement that nullified the petition brought by Mr Adelabu against Mr Makinde.
However, the appeal court on Monday said the judgement of the tribunal was ‘perverse’ and therefore set it aside.
The court, however, did not make any further order concerning the election.
The court added that status quo at the time of filing the petition by Mr Adelabu remains, meaning Mr Makinde remains the winner of the election as declared by INEC.
The court, in its lead judgement, ruled that the appellants, the APC and Mr Adelabu, were not giving fair hearing by the tribunal.
The Electoral Act only gives a grace of 180 days for a case to be heard at the election tribunal.
The appeal court ruled that the tribunal had exhausted its time; therefore, the case could not be sent back to it for review.
The court ordered that the status quo before the tribunal’s judgment should remain. This means the declaration of Mr Makinde as the winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship poll in Oyo State remains.
The court held that if not for time, it would have ordered a re-trial at the tribunal, noting that “unfortunately, the time limit of 180 days for the tribunal had been exhausted.”
Three out of the four judges resolved all issues in favour of the appellants.
There was a dissenting judgment from a judge with a proviso that the panel could not nullify Mr Makinde’s election.
Counsel to Mr Makinde, Eyitayo Jegede, in his reaction, said the judgement did not mean Mr Makinde is no longer the governor.
“He 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,” he said.
The counsel to Mr Adelabu and the APC, Adeboye Shobanjo, also reacted to the judgement.
“You listened to what my lord said about the evaluation of judgment of evidence that when there are (is) 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(ly), 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. The next step depends on my clients. They will brief us accordingly and it depends on instructions,” he said.