•Grand Onslaught Begins On March 9 •Oyinlola, PDP In Solo Celebration – AC Counsel
ONE of the counsel to the Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate in Osun State, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, Mr Bashir Ajibola has said that the dismissal of the application to adduce further evidence by the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State capital on Monday could not in any way affect the retrieval of the stolen mandate through the appellate court.
Ajibola spoke after the ruling of the Justice Victor Omage-led appeal panel which dismissed the application, of which the call-log of the alleged secret telephone conversations between members of the Justice Thomas Naron-led Election Petitions Tribunal that sat in the state and one of the lead counsel to the embattled Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola who is the major respondent in the matter, Otunba Kunle Kalejaiye (SAN) was attached, saying that the ruling could never bring a setback to the appeal.
According to him: “Our appeal is still on course, the ruling is not a setback to our case. The court only exercised its jurisdiction and that does not mean it is the end. And we have the Certified True Copies (CTC) of the publication by The NEWS, magazine certified by the national library, which confirmed the secret conversations and none of them has come out to deny the allegation.
But all they are just bringing out is the issue of technicalities, which the court had said should not be the basis in the interest of justice.
“We still have our main appeal on course and some other applications and minterlocutory appeal, especially on the report which shows that local government by local government in Osun State elections were disrupted. The document was not admitted by the lower tribunal and we hope that the court of appeal will admit it alongside other documents that were not admitted by the lower tribunal”.
The court dismissed the application on the basis that the evidence sought to be brought in through the application was neither raised before the lower tribunal nor admitted by the tribunal.
Aregbesola is challenging the controversial April 14, 2007 election of Oyinlola before the appellate court, asking the court to set aside the judgment of the lower tribunal for being biased in its judgment.
The appeal panel which was led by Justice Omage had Justices Abdul-Kadir Jega, Ladan Tsamia, Rapheal Agbo and Bode Rhodes Viviour as its members.
Aregbesola,s legal team led by Chief Kola Awodein (SAN) had Mr Deji Sasegbon (SAN), Femi Ifaturoti, Bashir Ajibola Wale Afolabi, Gbenga Akano, Yinka Okedara, Biodun Akinloye and Bayo Badmus among others.
Oyinlola had in his legal team, Mr Yusuff Alli (SAN), Kunle Kalejaiye (SAN) and Nathaniel Oke (SAN), who led other counsel.
The Aregbesola’s counsel had brought the application under Order 4 Rule 2 of the court which provides that the court shall admit further evidence either by oral evidence or by deposition as the court may direct.
But the Oyinlola’s counsel opposed the application, arguing that there was no any material record to support the evidence sought to be tendered.
According to the ruling, the evidence would have been admitted if it had earlier been raised before the lower tribunal, saying that in the alternative, such evidence could be admitted if it had satisfied some special grounds requested by law.
Stating the said special grounds, the court held: “It must be shown with reasonable evidence that the evidence sought to be tendered could not have been obtained during the trial before the lower tribunal; it must be proved that the no-admission of the document would affect the case of the appellant ; such document must be credible and not necessarily be incontrovertible”.
The court further stated in the ruling that in the face of the application through which the evidence was intended to be brought in, the applicant was to challenge the jurisdiction of the lower tribunal to have refused to disqualify itself from delivering the judgment.
It ruled that the refusal or otherwise of the document by the lower tribunal could not have affected the jurisdiction of the panel on the matter.
The court further stated that the issue of jurisdiction did not arise from the admission or refusal of the CTC of the call-log and subsequently rejected the application.
Also, Oyinlola’s counsel, Alli withdrew the appeal filed to challenge the ruling of the lower tribunal, which dismissed the preliminary objection filed by Oyinlola’s counsel before the tribunal, asking the court to dismiss the petition for lack of competence.
The Naron-led panel had rejected Oyinlola’s preliminary objection before its alleged compromise.
However, the Oyinlola’s counsel admitted that the application was superfluous and brought a notice of discontinuance in compliance with the order of the court, which directed the counsel to bring a letter.
Therefore, the court had adjourned the matter till March 9, 2009 for hearing.
On the adjourned day, the presiding judge promised to deal with all the substantive appeals before it no matter the impediment, the day expected of the court to fix a date for the judgment on the appeal.
Besides, the presiding judge, Justice Omage lashed the police during the proceedings of the panel, describing them as non-educated.
The statement was uttered by the judge when Alli brought to the notice of the court, the constraints the lawyers faced at the entrance of the court, narrating that the security operatives at the entrance of the court premises denied the lawyers from taking their cars to the premises.
The President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who was also in the court took up the observation, saying that he faced the same constraint but he was only allowed to come into the premises due to his insistence.
Akeredolu asked the court to warn the security operatives, saying: “They should know that this is our shop, because they have said that the order was from the court”.
Justice Omage denied giving such order, saying that he faced the same challenge from the security operatives at the entrance of the court, before he was latter allowed to enter, while the other two judges of the panel narrated to have faced the same challenge.
He then advised the NBA president to rather write the Inspector-General of Police or Commissioner of Police and informed them about the development.
The judge then tonguelashed the policemen, saying: “We cannot be quoting law for the police, because they are not educated enough to that extent. They are not knowledgeable to that effect. There is danger in the judges writing to the police and so, you can write them”.
Meanwhile, OSUN DEFENDER gathered that there was a solo celebration among the Oyinlola and PDP camp.
It was gathered that the celebration was low and dry as citizens did not celebrate with the PDP leaders.