In a unanimous decision in Akure on Thursday, the Court of Appeal presided over by Hon. Justice A.G. Mshelia, dismissed the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Senator Iyiola Omisore, from allegations during the August 9th gubernatorial election in Osun State.
The petition by Omisore and PDP stated that then gubernatorial candidate Rauf Aregbesola was involved in rigging the elections and committing electoral fraud in Osun State.
Iyiola Omisore has made headlines recently for his involvement with assisting to rig the Ekiti State elections by bribing Brigadier General Aliyu Momoh, conspiring to arrest opposition leaders, and deny access to polls by opposition voters.
The Court of Appeal, in addition to dismissing Omisore and PDP’s allegations, also upheld the cross-appeal by Governor Rauf Aregbesola that Omisore’s petition ought to have been dismissed before hearing as an abandoned petition.
In determining the appeal, the court adopted the 7 issues formulated by the Appellants (Omisore, and PDP). However, before considering the main appeal, the court upheld the preliminary objections by Aregbesola and APC's Counsel challenging the allegations by Omisore and the PDP in Osun State.
On the remaining six issues for determination, the court stated that it resolved all the issues against Omisore and the PDP.
The first allegation by Omisore and the PDP was struck down by the court because their arguments of Aregbesola alleged corrupt behavior lacked compelling enough evidence. The evidentiary basis was so weak that the court did not require Aregbesola to respond to the allegations.
The second ruling of the court claimed that Omisore and PDP’s allegations against Aregbesola were unestablished because they could not provide evidence to the “degree or magnitude” of his corrupt practices and non-compliance with laws.
The court also stated that the Appellants, Omisore and PDP, were thoroughly discredited under cross-examination. The Court of Appeal copiously referred to the evidence of these witnesses both in their evidence in chief and under cross-examination and held that their evidence were thoroughly discredited under cross-examination and that the tribunal rightly held that their evidence is unreliable and lack probative value.
According to the Court of Appeal, after reviewing the totality of the evidence called by the appellant on Local government by local government basis, the evidence called by the Appellants fell short of the required standard for the allegation made in the petition. In its concurring judgment, Saulawa JCA held that he has no option than to concur with the "most inevitable conclusion that the main appeal is unmeritorious and consequentially dismissed."
The Court of Appeal also upheld the cross-appeal filed by Aregbesola when he dismissed PDP and Omisore's petition as having been abandoned for failure to comply with the requirement of filing pre-hearing notice within stipulated time under paragraph 18 of 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.