The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the inclusion of a former judge in the Lagos State high court, J.O Oyewole, in the Osun State Governorship Election Appeal Tribunal.
The party registered its grievances during a press briefing on Tuesday at the party’s headquarters in Abuja.
Briefing journalists in his office, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said Mr Oyewole ”has strong connections with the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is an interested party in the appeal.”
The tribunal for the September 2018 governorship election in Osun State declared Ademola Adeleke winner of the election in its March 22 ruling.
The tribunal found that the supplementary election that held on September 28 to make up for the inconclusive September 22 poll was illegal.
It, therefore, deducted the scores of both major candidates, saying that Mr Adeleke was the true winner based on the results of the initial ballot.
The Independent National Electoral Commission initially declared the sitting governor, Gboyega Oyetola, as the winner of the election.
Mr Oyetola had asked the Court of Appeal in Abuja to reverse the March 22 majority judgment of the tribunal which declared Mr Adeleke winner of September 2018 election.
In a notice of appeal filed on March 26 by his team of lawyers led by Wole Olanipekun, Mr Oyetola urged the appeal court to nullify the tribunal judgment given by Justices Peter Obiora and Anyinla Gbolagunte.
But the PDP, while rejecting the appointment of Mr Oyewole, said it had petitioned the President of the Court. It objected to the inclusion of the judge in the appeal panel based on the ”clear likelihood of his being biased against the person of its candidate”.
“Our grounds of objection against Justice Oyewole’s membership of the appeal panel are as follows:
“Hon. Justice Oyewole (JCA) is an indigene of Osun State and he had served as a High Court Judge of Lagos State and had thus served under the administration of Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, (the national leader of the APC) while he (Tinubu) was the governor of Lagos State.
“When the seat of the Chief Judge of Osun State became vacant, some years back, upon the retirement of Hon. Justice G.O Ojo, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu insisted on having his anointed candidate, Hon Justice J.O.K Oyewole, on the Judiciary of Osun State at all cost.
“It will be recalled that it took the courageous intervention of the then Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Murktar to prevail that the most senior judge of Osun state judiciary should be so appointed.
“When a seat became vacant at the Court of Appeal, the name of Hon. Justice Oyewole was pushed forward by Senator Tinubu, using the slot of Osun State and thus, Justice Oyewole became Justice of the Court of Appeal.
“It is, therefore, a fact known to us and members of the public that Hon. Justice Oyewole has a strong connection with the APC and its leader, Senator Ahmed Tinubu. As such he should not sit as a panel member for a governorship election dispute between the PDP and the APC.”
The party said Mr Oyewole is from Osun state and ”the instant appeal is over the decision of the Osun State Governorship Tribunal.”
“Given his connections with the APC, it will be most unsafe to allow Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole to sit on the appeal panel. We are not assured that justice will be done with Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole as a member of the Panel.
“As a party, we do not have confidence in Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole. So the PDP vehemently objects to his inclusion, as he is likely to be biased against our party and our candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke.”
The party called on the President of the Court of Appeal immediately replace Mr Oyewole.
It said his inclusion could have been deliberate, ”so that he can carry out a special assignment against their candidate and party in the appeal”.