• Tribunal Bound By Applicable Judicial Decisions – Appeal Panel Chairman
•Appeal Court Reserves Judgement On All Grounds Of Appeal
The appeal court sitting holden in Abuja on Monday reserved judgement on the three grounds of appeal by Governor Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke, The Peoples Democratic Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on the propriety of the split judgement delivered by the election petition tribunal in Osogbo, the Osun State capital on January 26,2023.
Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), Alex Iziyon (SAN), and Professor Paul Anababa (SAN) representing Governor Ademola Adeleke, the PDP and INEC respectively contended that the lower tribunal erred in law to have overlooked weight of evidence placed before it, in line with provisions of the electoral act 2022 as ammended.
The trio, leading other eminent lawyers told the court that it was a fatal error for the magistrate member of the lower tribunal, Mrs Basiru Rabi, to have assumed that appending her signature alone to the judgment delivered by the tribunal chairman without proclaiming her judgement in the open court should render the tribunal judgment invalid.
According to the learned silks, where and whenever judges sit in panel on crucial decision as in the case of election petition, the interpretation of the law by the supreme court should be followed to the effect that signature appended on the judgment without her opinion in the open court in effect is to nullify the judgment she co-signed.
On the allegation of forgery of testimonial certificate of Governor Ademola Adeleke, Dr Ikpeazu particularly drew attention of the panel to the fact as to whether the tribunal decision a fatality of the tribunal judgment after ignoring a subsisting decision by the appellate court on the alleged forged document which had been effectively laid all issues on the matter to rest by without any known appeal. The lower court shouldn’t have even considered such ground of the petition at all as it amounted to judicial affront on the powers of a superior court of competent jurisdiction.
Matters got to a head when the appeal panel chairman, honorable justice Shuaib Mohammed posed a question to Apc Counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, as to whether a court of law is not duty bound to take judicial notice, all decisions applicable to a case under consideration. The court as a matter of fact, according to the chairman, does not need to avail the court any copy of the judgment so far appropriate authority of the judgment was cited in court.
On the BVAS machine, the Apc founded their petition on an election conducted at the polling units but failed to tender materials used at the poling units which include the BVAS machine, form Ec8A, and voter register used at the said polling units. The PDP counsels wondered how it was convenient for the lower tribunal to have bypassed these fundamental pieces of evidence in the July 16 2022 election before arriving at their decision.
The findings on the primary BVAS machine used for the election only showed infraction of over-voting in just 6 polling units with a paltry differentials of a little over a thousand votes. But surprisingly, the lower court failed to look at the evidence as placed before it even after the inspection carried out on the BVAS used at the affected polling units and the report generated therein were products of the order of the same panel.
On the backend server report and certification. The appellant counsels asked the court to invalidate the admitted documents which emanated from it as the process of statutory payment for certification for report obtained by Apc from Inec was inappropriate and should render the document invalid. The receipt showing payment for the document so obtained should have a proven nexus between it and the date the document was certified.
The caretaker committee chairman of the PDP in Osun State, Dr Akindele Adekunle led other PDP leaders to the appeal court sitting.
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