On Monday, November 11, 2019, the Court of Appeal in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, upheld the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 election, Adebayo Adelabu.
The justices ruled that the appeal by Adelabu, “subsists.”
What exactly does this mean in the larger scheme of things?
The time limit of 180 days
According to the nation’s Electoral Act, an election case can only be heard and decided at the tribunal within a time frame of 180 days.
So, even though the appeal court faulted the judgment of the tribunal which ruled in favour of the PDP’s Makinde, the court still said there is very little it can do for Adelabu because the 180 days allowed to hear cases at the tribunal had elapsed.
Essentially, the appeal court said the tribunal judgment that upheld Makinde’s election was “perverse.” But it also ordered that the status quo before the tribunal’s judgment be maintained.
According to the appeal court, it would have ordered a retrial at the tribunal if the time frame of 180 days hadn’t elapsed.
Adebayo Adelabu is contesting the election in Oyo State that produced Makinde as Governor (Punch)
Three of the four-man panel of the appeal court resolved all issues in favour of the appellant, Adelabu.
In its lead judgement, the court ruled that the appellants–the APC and Adelabu–were not given a fair hearing by the tribunal.
So, the appeal court stopped short of sacking Makinde and reserved judgment on the case because constitutionally, that was the very least it could do.
By way of summary, even though the appeal court didn’t agree with the tribunal, it couldn’t sack Makinde for the reason stated above.
Going by the proceedings at the appeal court, Makinde remains Governor of Oyo State. When a court says “status quo” be maintained, it is saying things should be left the way there were.
Makinde was governor before the ruling and remains governor as you read this, in spite of the appeal court’s reservations about the tribunal ruling that upheld his election.
What are the views from both political camps?
According to Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), lead counsel of Makinde, the declaration of Makinde as governor by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the tribunal “has not been affected in any way.
“The Court of Appeal in their wisdom said they did not agree with the lower tribunal. They did not also say that they did not agree with INEC. So, INEC’s declaration is sacrosanct and it remains until any other pronouncement from the court.
“We have not seen the details of the judgment. We were all in court and you saw that the details were not read to us. As far as we are concerned, there is no cause for alarm.
“There is no implication on the return and declaration of Seyi Makinde as the Governor of Oyo State.”
Counsel for Adelabu and the APC, Adeboye Shobanjo, said: “In totality, the appeal was allowed, but my lord said that because of the effusion of time, they could not order for the retrial of the case.”
Gov. Seyi Makinde on duty [Twitter/@seyiamakinde]
Asked if Adelabu and the APC will now head to the Supreme Court, Shobanjo said, “The next step depends on my clients. They will brief us accordingly and it depends on instructions.”
The APC in Oyo State said “the verdict given on Monday was unambiguous, apt and sound enough to convince any informed mind about the genuineness of our claim that Makinde’s declaration as the winner of the March 9 poll was done by INEC in error.”
What is Makinde saying?
In a statement issued through his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, Makinde said, “there is no ambiguity as to the state of things in our Pacesetter State as far as the election of March 9, 2019 is concerned. Our party, the Peoples Democratic Party, won the election.
“The victory was reaffirmed by a ruling of the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Ibadan, the state capital.
Makinde of Oyo State says he remains governor (Guardian)
“In its ruling, the Appeal Court refused to grant any of the three key reliefs sought by the APC candidate. The court refused to nullify the election; it refused to order a fresh election and it also refused to order a retrial of the petition.
“With the above being the reality of the outcome of the Appeal Court ruling, the election of Seyi Makinde as the governor of Oyo State has just been reaffirmed.”
Makinde maintains that he remains Governor of Oyo State. And as things stand, he’s just about right.