The Appeal Court sitting in Akure, Ondo State on Friday threw out an appeal filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Osun State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ambassador Toyin Akeju, against a judgement of the Federal High Court, Osogbo on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction.
The Federal High Court had in February 2011 restrained Akeju from presiding over the affairs of the INEC in Osun State following a suit by the Peoples Democratic Party alleging that the REC was partisan in the handling of the electoral process in the state.
But INEC and Akeju, not satisfied with the High Court judgment, approached the Appeal Court in Akure to set aside the judgement of the lower court.
The case which was finally decided by a five-man panel, presided over by Justice Mi Sheila, rejected the appeal, saying that the notice of appeal was not properly filed and that the entire process was therefore null and void.
The Appeal Court also held that the judgement of the Federal High Court in Osogbo restraining Akeju remained extant and should be complied with.
Justice Lokular Shodipo, Justice Ariyibi, justice F.A Akinbami and Justice B. M Ugor were other members of the panel.
The Peoples Democratic Party had hailed the decision of the Court of Appeal in Akure, Ondo State for upholding the ruling of the High Court in Osogbo that Akeju was not qualified to conduct the 2011 election in the state had vindicated the position of the party on the electoral umpire.
The PDP in Osun State said this in a statement issued in Osogbo on Friday by its Director of Media and Strategy, Mr. Diran Odeyemi, following the ruling of the appellate court.
Odeyemi said, “By implication now, all elections conducted into the state House of Assembly, House of Representatives and the Senate have become null and void.
“This landmark ruling has vindicated the PDP’s stance that Akeju, based on his relationship with one of the APC national leaders, Mr. Bola Tinubu, has no moral justification to conduct the election.
“This is a welcome decision and all the APC lawmakers who are going about in a borrowed garment have come to their wits end. This is victory for democracy because though the wheel of Justice grinds slowly, justice has been dispensed at the end of the day. We urge the Independent National Electoral Commission, to demonstrate that it is truly independent by obeying this ruling and sack Akeju without further delay because it has been proven by court of competent jurisdiction that the controversial REC is a card- carrying member of APC and not fit to preside over election anywhere in the country.”
The All Progressives Congress has however expressed doubt at the authenticity of the judgment.
The Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the APC in Osun State, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, said this in a statement he issued to react to the verdict.
Oyatomi said, “This is a very funny development. A judgment of that magnitude and important to our democratic culture was to be delivered in Akure was unknown to anybody except Omisore’s PDP.
“Media correspondents in Akure only got the news of the so-called judgment from Omisore’s office in Osogbo. Something terribly sinister is going on here.
“It is even funnier still that when correspondents in Akure got the news from Omisore’s office in Osun, they rushed to the appeal Court to get the judgment, but the court was said to have closed for the day, after supposedly having delivered a judgment that was unknown to the public.
“We are only waiting to see the content of that judgment before we can make any comment.”