The Supreme Court yesterday by a split decision of four-to-three upheld the victory of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Governor of Ondo State.
In the majority judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, four of the seven-member panel, dismissed the appeal by Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the grounds that it was incompetent.
Justice Agim upheld an earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal, that the petition filed by Jegede and his party at the election tribunal was incompetent because they failed to include Yobe Governor and Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the APC, Mai Mala Buni as a party.
In the minority judgment read by Justice Mary Peter- Odili, the court upheld the appeal and dismissed the cross appeal by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Akeredolu and the APC. Justices Odili, Ejembi Eko and Tijjani Abubakar, who dissented in their judgment, held that Buni, as an executive governor of a state, cannot act in the capacity of Acting Chairman of the APC.
They also held that the Yobe State governor acted in violation of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. Meanwhile, in the majority judgment, four of the apex court justices agreed with the concurrent decisions of the Ondo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal in dismissing the appeal for lacking in merit. Jegede had in June appealed the decision of the Court of Appeal that validated the election of Akeredolu in the poll.
The Court of Appeal led by Justice Theresa Orji- Abadua consequently dismissed the petition. Delivering judgement, the Appeal Court had out of seven issues raised for determination resolved four and half in favour of Jegede and the rest in favour of Akeredolu.
Not satisfied with the decision of the Appellate Court, both Akeredolu, Jegede, and INEC approached the Supreme Court for the invalidation of both the Election Petition Tribunal and Appeal Court judgements.