By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, on Tuesday, debunked allegation that a Judge loyal to the ruling all Progressives Congress, APC, was included as a member of the Osun State Governorship Election Appeal Panel.
The panel was constituted to hear an appeal seeking to reverse the majority judgment of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sacked Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of the APC from office.
The tribunal had in a verdict it delivered on March 22, declared Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the valid winner of the gubernatorial election that held in the state in September 2018.
Meanwhile, shortly after the appellate court announced its decision to commence hearing on governor Oyetola’s Appeal on Wednesday, PDP, said it uncovered that a member of the appeal panel has strong ties with the ruling party.
Specifically, PDP, through its National Working Committee, said it was vehemently opposed to the inclusion of Justice Joseph Oyewole as a member of the Osun State Governorship Election Appeal Tribunal.
PDP noted that Oyewole is an indigene of Osun State who it said served as a High Court Judge of Lagos State while the national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, held sway as governor in Lagos.
PDP said it had already sent a petition to the Court of Appeal President to raise its objection to the inclusion of Justice Oyewole in the appeal panel, based on the presumed likelihood that he would be biased in the case.
“Our grounds of objection against Justice Oyewole’s membership of the appeal panel are as follow: Oyewole 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, Oyewole, on the Judiciary of Osun State at all costs.
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“It will be recalled that it took the courageous intervention of the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Murktar, to prevail that the most senior judge in Osun State judiciary should be so appointed.
“The PDP therefore demands that the President of the Court of Appeal immediately replace Oyewole with another justice of the Court of Appeal, without any affiliation with Osun State, out of the over 90 eminent Justices of the Court of Appeal.
“Our party and candidate hold that justice must not only be done, but also manifestly seen to be done in this matter”, PDP stated through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan.
However, reacting to the allegation, the Court of Appeal President, Justice Bulkachuwa, said there was no truth in it, describing the linking of Justice Oyewole to the Osun gubernatorial dispute as handiwork of purveyors of fake news.
In a statement entitled “Don’t Be Misguided”, the PCA, stressed that contrary to PDP’s contention, Justice Oyewole was not included in the Osun State governorship case.
“Hon. Justice Joseph Oyewole, Justice of the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, an industrous son of the Osun State, is not a Member of the the Osun Governorship Election Appeal Tribunal set up by the President of the Court of Appeal who had earlier said that the court must always put her integrity on the front burner .
“The Members of the public are therefore advised not to be misguided by desperate and jittery individuals whose action is to heat up the polity.
“Time has changed, and it is better for us to change with time. The era of fake News is over”, read the statement that was signed by the Head of Information Department at the Court of Appeal, Mrs. Saadatu Musa Kachalla.
We will not engage PDP on petitions that are sub-judice – INEC