– KOLAPO Ayobamidele, ABH Press

The Supreme court on Friday morning affirmed Gboyega Oyetola as the winner of the September 2018 Osun State governorship election, dismissing the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Ademola Adeleke.
The apex court in a split decision of five to two, upheld the majority decision of the Court of Appeal which ruled that the majority judgment delivered at the Elections Tribunal in favour of Adeleke was a nullity.
The majority judgment was read by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour who held that the absence of the judge who later read the judgment of the tribunal, Justice Peter Obiorah, during the February 6, 2019 hearing has rendered the entire proceedings of the tribunal and its judgment a nullity. Justice Rhodes-Vivour upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal that the proper thing to have done in the absence of Justice Obiorah was to start the entire trial afresh and therfore affirmed Gboyega Oyetola as the winner of the election.
Four other judges including the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, consented to the majority judgment. They held that Justice Obiorah 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 during the February 6 hearing.
However, Justice Kumai Akaahs and Justice Paul Galinje dissented from the Judgment. They held that the conclusion that Justice Obiorah did not participate in the February 6 hearing of the tribunal “was based on conjecture” or at best “a well-articulated speculation”.
Adeleke in a statement by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, stated that his ambition to be the Governor was never a do-or-die affair. He said that the Supreme Court’s decision, regardless of his disagreement and disappointment with it, remained final and that he wishes Oyetola well in the governance of Osun State.

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