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Just in: S’Court erred in visiting the sins of tribunal on Adeleke—Lawyer

Lagos lawyer, Mr Evans Ufeli, has reacted to the Friday’s Supreme Court ruling dismissing the appeal filed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 2018 guber election candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke in Osun State and affirmed All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate as the elected governor of the state.
The apex court in a split judgment of five to two of the 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 because the lead judgment confirming Adeleke, was delivered one of the trial judge that was not at the tribunal at a critical stage of the tribunal seating to have known what transpired before giving lead judgment.
Otherwise, Supreme Court’s 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.
In his argument, Ufeli noted that “The Supreme Court would have relied on the merit of facts before it than turning its face away from point of law to look at errors committed by a tribunal it set up to punish the wrong people which are the litigants.”
“It is not the duty of litigants to make sure that all detailed judges for their cases must be seated at all times of the hearing because litigants cannot control the judiciary or determine when to appear for their cases because one of the appointed judges will be absent.
“This decision is strange and may begin to create embarrassing scenarios in certain critical cases in future especially when hearings are entered in the absence of one of the appointed judges.
Continuing, the legal expert recalled that “The lead majority judgment of the apex court on the main appeal was delivered by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour which was consented to by Justices Muhammad, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Amiru Sanusi, and Uwani Abba-Aji.

Osun Oyetola
President Muhammadu Buhari congratulating Gov. Oyetola as former Governor, Ogeni Rauf Aregbesola claps in support.

“Now, upholding that for the fact 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, is a clear case of visiting the sins of the judiciary on an innocent litigant in a case the litigant appealed.
According to Ufeli, “Relying on the technical consideration that Justice Obiora’s absence, which in no way was the making of Senator Adeleke to rule that the judgment passed by the trial tribunal was a nullity is a serious precedent set by the apex court which may haunt the judiciary in future”.
Business Hilights gathered that to declare Governor Gboyega Oyetola, the substantive Governor of Osun State, the majority judgment 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,” and therefore set aside the tribunal ruling.

Whereas Senator Ademola has responded by wishing Governor Gboyega Oyetola well, PDP’s Presidential hopeful, Atiku Abubakar, via his verified Twitter handle said, “Those who think this is the end of the road for Senator Adeleke and the PDP in Osun, are greatly mistaken. This is not the end. Not even the beginning of the end. No. Today marks the continued ascendancy of Senator Adeleke and his party in the hearts and minds of his people.”
Continuing, he added that “I join with people of goodwill all over Nigeria to say to Senator Ademola Adeleke, and the people of the great state of Osun, that we stand with them in good times and in difficult days. The Supreme Court has ruled and because of its judicial finality, the legal case is over”.
Already, jubilation has rented the air across Osun by APC supporters over the Supreme Court victory as Oyetola has assured that time has come for consolidation of service delivery to Osun state and people.