The Supreme Court has on Friday, July 5, 2019, dismissed the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its governorship candidate in the September 2018 election in Osun State, Ademola Adeleke, challenging the election of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The apex court in a split decision of five to two, the apex court’s panel of seven Justices held that the proceedings and the majority judgment of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal which had declared the PDP as the winner of the poll were a nullity.
Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour who read the lead majority judgment of the apex court held that the absence of Justice Peter Obiorah who later read the lead judgment of the tribunal during the February 6, 2019 hearing, had rendered the entire proceedings of the said tribunal and its judgment a nullity.
The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad and three other members consented to the lead majority judgment.
But Justice Kumai Akaahs and Justice Paul Galinje affirmed PDP as the winner of the poll.
The judgment was a split decision of five-to-two.
The judgments of the apex court on all the four appeals on the disputed poll followed the same pattern.
In an unprecedented manner, the judgments on the disputed September 2018 poll from the tribunal to the Supreme Court were split.
It was a split of two-to-one in favour of PDP at the three-man tribunal, four-to-one at the five-man panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, and now five-to-two at the apex court.
Five Justices of the apex court affirmed the majority judgment of the Court of Appeal on May 9, 2019 and dismissed the majority judgment of the tribunal delivered on March 22, 2019
The two other Justices of the apex court affirmed the majority judgment of the tribunal and the minority judgment of the Court of Appeal.
The lead majority judgment of the apex court on the main appeal was delivered by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour on Friday.
Justices Muhammad, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Amiru Sanusi, and Uwani Abba-Aji, consented to Justice Rhodes-Vivour’s majority judgment.
They held that a member of the tribunal, Justice Peter Obiorah, was absent from the proceedings of February 6, 2019, but went ahead to deliver the lead majority judgment of the tribunal when he was not available to watch the demeanour of the witnesses who testified that day.
They added that Justice Obiora’s absence at the said proceedings had rendered the entire proceedings of the tribunal including the tribunal’s lead judgment which he authored, declaring Adeleke and the PDP the winner of the poll was a nullity.
But Justices Kumai Akaahs and Paul Galinje dissented by declaring Adeleke as the true winner of the September 2018 poll.
They held that the conclusion that Justice Obiora did not participate in the February 6, 2019 proceedings of the tribunal “was based on conjecture” or at best “a well-articulated speculation”.