By Adesina Wahab
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the composition of the panel of the Court of Appeal that will hear the appeals filed concerning the judgment of the Election Petition Tribunal on the Osun State governorship election.
This is just as the panel is set to begin hearing on the matters on Wednesday.
The PDP, in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja, said the party was opposed to the inclusion of Justice Joseph Oyewole on the panel.
“Our position is predicated on the fact that Hon. Justice Oyewole has strong connections with the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is an interested party in the appeal.
“In this regard, the PDP has already petitioned the President of the Court, objecting to the inclusion of Hon Justice Oyewole in the appeal panel based on the clear likelihood of his being biased against the person of our candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke and the PDP, under which he contested the 2018 Osun State governorship election.
“Our grounds of objection against Justice Oyewole’s membership of the appeal panel are as follows:
“Hon. Justice Oyewole (JCA) 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, Hon Justice J.O.K Oyewole, on the Judiciary of Osun State at all cost.
“It will be recalled that it took the courageous intervention of the then Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Murktar to prevail that the most senior judge of Osun state judiciary should be so appointed.
“When a seat became vacant at the Court of Appeal, the name of Hon. Justice Oyewole was pushed forward by Senator Tinubu, using the slot of Osun State and thus, Justice Oyewole became Justice of the Court of Appeal.
“It is therefore a fact known to us and members of the public that Hon. Justice Oyewole has a strong connection with the APC and its leader, Senator Ahmed Tinubu. As such he should not sit as a panel member for a governorship election dispute between the PDP and the APC.
“Moreover, Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole is from Osun state. The instant appeal is over the decision of the Osun state Governorship Tribunal. Given his connections with the APC. It will be most unsafe to allow Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole to sit on the Appeal Panel. We are not assured that justice will be done with Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole as a member of the Panel.
“As a party, we do not have confidence in Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole. So the PDP vehemently objects to his inclusion, as he is likely to be biased against our party and our candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke.
“The PDP therefore demands that the President of the Court of Appeal immediately replace Hon. Justice J.O.K 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. Indeed, an insistence on Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole’s inclusion in the Appeal Panel may confirm our fears that his name could have been deliberately included so that he can carry out a special assignment against our candidate and the party in the appeal.”