By Ade Adewale
The Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan has upheld the victory of Mr Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Oyo State governorship election.
The court affirmed the decision of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which declared Governor Makinde as the winner of the March 9 poll, in a unanimous judgement delivered by Justice Abubakar Yahaya on Monday.
It, however, dismissed the appeal filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election, Mr Adebayo Adelabu.
Justice Yahaya, the lead judge of the four-man panel, despite upholding the decision of the Tribunal, however, disagreed with the lower court on issues bordering on documents tendered by the APC.
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 that, the time limit of 180days 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 remain.
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.