• We’ll appeal verdict, says counsel
• Babatope, Aborisade, Nwosu call for caution
Justice Oathman Musa of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Bwari, Abuja, has nullified the nomination of Senator Ademola Adeleke as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the September 2018 governorship election in Osun State.
Adeleke, who represents Osun West Senatorial District at the Senate, was PDP’s candidate for the state in the 2018 governorship election.
Two chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Wahab Raheem and Adam Habeeb, had in 2018, few days to the governorship election, taken Adeleke to court.
Both of them had accused him of not possessing the requisite educational qualification (secondary school certificate) to contest the office of governor.
They consequently prayed the court for an order to disqualify Adeleke from participating in the September 22 governorship election in the state on the ground that he does not have the required educational qualification.
Delivering judgment in the suit yesterday, Justice Musa annulled Adeleke’s nomination on the ground that he violated Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution.
The section stipulates that candidates for the position of governor must be educated up to a secondary school level.
According to Justice Musa, while the court’s findings showed that Adeleke entered secondary school in 1976, there was no record indicating that he actually graduated since his name was no longer seen in the school’s register from 1980.
Justice Musa further held that the result Adeleke attached to his form CF001, which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was fake, as it was found to be different from the one presented to the court by the principal of Ede Muslim High School, Ede, Osun State.
But Adeleke’s lawyer, Nathaniel Oke (SAN), has faulted the judgment on the ground that the judge erred in law by going out of his way to source for evidence to arrive at his “unjust conclusion”.
The lawyer maintained that the court erred particularly when it ignored WAEC evidence that Adeleke was educated up to Secondary School level as required by law.
Oke also disclosed Adeleke’s intention to approach the Court of Appeal on the matter, expressing confidence that the judgment cannot stand at the Appeal Court.
The West African Examination Council (WAEC) had, in the course of the trial, confirmed that Adeleke sat for the May/June examination of the council in 1981.
The council in an affidavit deposed to by one Osindeinde Adewunmi and filed at the registry of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, confirmed that Adeleke sat for the Senior Secondary School exams in May/June 1981.
The confirmation was contained in a four-paragraph affidavit filed in compliance with the order of Justice Musa, requesting the examination body to confirm whether the governorship candidate sat for the 1981 exams.
Meanwhile, former Minister for Transport and member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, National Chairman of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu and a human rights lawyer, Dr. Femi Aborisade, have called for caution from all political stakeholders.
The trio, while reacting to the verdict, said the nation’s democracy is at a crossroads.
Babatope said: “I have not read the report but I envisaged it coming since the election tribunal ruled in favour of PDP and Adeleke in the Osun State gubernatorial election. There are some fifth columnists who are agents of APC among us that wanted the whole victory upside down. I am convinced that PDP won that election but if APC should go ahead to truncate the mandate freely given by the people of Osun to Adeleke and PDP, the ruling party would eventually destroy our democracy and the judiciary.”
Aborisade said it might just be a coincidence that the Abuja High Court judgment came at this point after the governorship election tribunal in Osun had ruled in favour of Adeleke and PDP. “Whatever the case is, Adeleke might still exercise his fundamental right to appeal the judgment.”
Aborisade however said it was shameful that contestants for sensitive public offices such as president and governors would allegedly not have the prerequisite qualifications to vie for the posts. “There are cases of people who allegedly forged certificates. Even President Muhammadu Buhari is engulfed in this type of matter, which makes it more worrisome. I think we should do something about it.”
Nwosu said the ruling APC was dragging democracy to a precipice. He alleged that INEC and various security agencies were colluding to circumvent the people’s will.
A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Chukwudi Adiukwu, said “Having participated in the election, what happened in Audu Abubakar’s case will happen as the Electoral Act has been amended to provide that the deputy will automatically be sworn in as governor.”
Another lawyer, Mr. Johnson Esezobo, said: “Collaterally, everything resting on the nomination will go with it.”
In his reaction, S.M. Olatunji said: “The decision of the FHC ought not to come in this manner at this point in time. Adeleke’s nomination was never in issue at this stage of the tribunal’s decision regarding the gubernatorial election in Osun State.
The above decision has nothing to do with the decision of the tribunal. Therefore, this issue of forgery of certificate is political in nature and tends to embarrass the will of justice in the country.”