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Sad! Governor Seyi Makinde May Be Sacked




Governor Seyi Makinde is undoubtedly one of the most popular and admired state governors at the moment.

Since the inception of his administration, all his decisions and policies, meticulously planned and articulated with clear execution strategies, have been overwhelmingly applauded by not only the citizens and residents of Oyo state but also Nigerians from other states who have been keeping pace with the developments in the pacesetter state.

However, the billionaire governor is facing a legal battle which may seem him vacate the Agodi Government House prematurely.



Shortly after INEC declared Makinde who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the winner of the election, Adebayo Adelabu who was his closest contender and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, headed to the tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election.

Makinde, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission's declaration, had polled 515,621 votes to defeat his closest rival, Adelabu who garnered 357,982 votes.


But Adelabu and the APC condemned the results and headed to the tribunal.

They accused Makinde and the PDP of over-voting, and corrupt practices.

Adelabu and his party further alleged that the election was not in compliance with the electoral act 2010.



The tribunal, however, dismissed thier petition for lack of evidence and upheld Makinde's election.

The tribunal led by Justice Sirajo Muhammed said Adelabu's witnesses gave reports based on hearsay and not direct eyewitnesses accounts.

Still not satisfied, the APC governorship candidate headed to the Court of Appeal to further challenge Makinde's victory.

And this where the legal confusion set in.

Adelabu had sought three key reliefs from the appeal court: nullification of the election based on the alleged non-compliance with the electoral act 2010, ordering a fresh election and/or ordering a retrial of the petition.

The appeal court judgment favoured Adelabu but not to the extent of declaring him the winner or nullifying the election.


The panel led by Justice Yahaya faulted the tribunal's judgement, saying it was perverse.

The court declared that there was a miscarriage of justice by the tribunal and that the right to fair hearing of Adelabu and his party was breached.

According to the lead judge, the tribunal did not properly examine the documents tendered by Adelabu which ought to have guided it in its ruling.

The confusing part was that despite faulting the ruling of the tribunal, the appeal court did not nullify the election nor sack Makinde.


The court said it would have ordered a re-trial at the tribunal but the time limit of 180 days for the tribunal had been exhausted.

The court also ruled that, having examined Adelabu's evidence, his complaints about the non compliance with the electoral act was not valid. Though there was a case of non compliance with election guidelines, such could not lead to the nullification of the election since it is not a direct violation of electoral act, the panel ruled.

Subsequently, the court ordered that status quo at the time of filing the petition by Adelabu be maintained, meaning Makinde remains the winner of the election as declared by INEC.

With his hope rekindled by the appeal court's ambivalent judgment, Adelabu headed to the Supreme Court, to seek final redress.

Can Adelabu win at the apex court? Can the court nullify Makinde's election? Legal experts speak

A former Attorney-General of Oyo State, Michael Lana, told Nigerian Tribune that since the appeal court had faulted the tribunal's ruling and set it aside, the consequential order should have been to nullify the election and order a rerun.

The legal expert, citing the case of Fayemi versus Oni, said once there is non-compliance with the guideline and regulations made by INEC, it is equivalent with non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

Lana, however, noted that that was the practice when the court of appeal was the final court in governorship election petition.

The legal expert said the Supreme Court which is now the final court in governorship election petition has ruled that non-compliance with guidelines is not enough to nullify an election.

Thus, the court of appeal could not nullify the election because doing so would be to overrule the Supreme Court.

In the Nigerian legal system, a court of appeal cannot overrule the Supreme Court, it is the Supreme Court that can only overulle itself.

The legal luminary said the judgment given by the Court of Appeal was indirectly asking the two parties to go to the Supreme Court for final redress.

According to Lana's statement, the election can still be nullified if Adelabu can convince the Supreme Court to overrule itself on the earlier verdict that non-compliance with guidelines is not enough to nullify an election.

Lana equally noted that the election would remain affirmed if Makinde's counsels were able to convince the court not to overrule itself.

 The appellants will try to convince the Supreme Court that the Court of Appeal was wrong in its decision and that the Apex court should correct itself in this case.

The respondents will also try to convince the Supreme Court. What the Supreme Court will now do, nobody can say. It depends on the arguments put forward by both parties, he said.

Meanwhile, Professor Adeniyi Olatunbosun, a professor of Law and Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan, told Nigerian Tribune that the APC governorship candidate's chance of winning at the apex court was slim.

Olatunbosun clarified that the appeal court ruling did not fault Makinde's election. He stated that the ruling only faulted the tribunal's ruling for not giving Adelabu a fair hearing.

He noted that the essence of the appeal court ruling is to ensure that petitioners are given fair hearing in the future tribunal hearings.

The law professor suggested that the Supreme Court may look into what could be the consequences of the tribunal's failure to give Adelabu fair hearing.

The Supreme Court can even go further to say that assuming Adelabu was given fair hearing and the chance to present those cases, would he have in one way or the other overturned the position? If not, the status quo still remains, he said.

However, the legal expert said Adelabu would have to provide evidence if he claimed he won the election.

Noting that Makinde had the highest number of votes in almost 25 out of 33 local governments in the state, Olatunbosun opined that the apex can not upturn the election except there are evidences to prove the contrary.

Conclusion

While the odds seem to favour Governor Makinde at the Supreme Court, there is still a possibility of the election being nullified if Adelabu and APC's counsels are able to convince the apex court to reverse itself on the earlier verdict that non-compliance with guidelines is not enough to nullify an election.

The Supreme Court is reportedly set to hear the appeal filed by Adelabu today, Wednesday, December 18. The apex court may also deliver its judgment today.
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