Justice Oathman Musa of an Abuja High Court sitting in Bwari Area Council of Abuja yesterday nullified the nomination of Senator Ademola Adeleke as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the September 2018 governorship election in Osun State.
But the decision may not translate to joy for the opposing All Progressives Congress (APC) whose candidate, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, won the contest and had his victory reversed by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal recently, as the runner-up in the PDP primaries might be called upon to pick up Adeleke’s slot.
Adeleke, who represents Osun West senatorial district at the National Assembly, had his candidacy challenged by two chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Wahab Raheem and Mr. Adam Habeeb, who had in 2018 barely few days to the governorship election in Osun State dragged him to court, accusing him of not possessing the requisite educational qualification (secondary school certificate) to contest for the office of governor.
They prayed the court for an order to disqualify Adeleke from participating in the September 22 governorship election in the state on the grounds that he did not possess the requisite educational qualification.
Delivering judgment in the suit yesterday, Justice Musa annulled Adeleke’s nomination on the grounds that Adeleke offended section 177 of the 1999 Constitution as amended. The section stipulated that candidates for the position of governor must be educated up to secondary school level.
According to Justice Musa, while the court’s findings showed that Adeleke entered secondary school in 1976, there was no record to show that he actually graduated as his name was no longer seen in the school’s register from 1980.
Justice Musa further stated 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.
Meanwhile, Adeleke’s lawyer, Mr. Nathaniel Oke SAN, has faulted the judgment of Justice Musa on the grounds that the judge erred in law by going out of his way to source for evidence to arrive at his “unjust conclusion.”
He submitted that the court erred particularly when it ignored WAEC’s evidence that Adeleke was educated up to secondary school level as required by law.
While he disclosed that they will immediately commence filing of their appeal against the judgment, the senior lawyer expressed confidence that the judgment cannot stand at appeal court.
It would be recalled that the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) during the court’s proceedings 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 Oathman Musa requesting the examination body to confirm whether the governorship candidate sat for the 1981 exams.
Justice Musa had in a ruling delivered on September 11 directed that WAEC should depose an affidavit to either deny or confirm that Adeleke sat for the exams the council conducted at Ede Muslim High School in Ede, Osun State, in 1981.
It equally said the examination body should file the ledger containing results of Ademola and his mates with whom he sat for the examinations, as well the verifying affidavit, within five days of being served with the enrolled order dated September 11.
WAEC, however, in the sworn affidavit confirmed that Adeleke with centre number 19645 and candidate number 149 indeed sat for the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in May/June 1981 conducted by the council at Ede Muslim School situate at P.O. Box 6 Yidi Road, Ede, State of Osun.
Accompanying the affidavit was a ledger containing the result of all candidates (001-221) who sat for the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in the said school.
The certified true copy of the ledger, which is marked as exhibit WA1, however, showed that Adeleke sat for only English Language in the examination.
In arguing their case the plaintiffs, through their counsel, Mr. Bankole Akomolafe, on Sept 11 claimed that the PDP candidate did not sit for the WAEC examination in 1981 because the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination had not been introduced in the country as at then.
They further alleged that the NECO examination he claimed to have sat for could not be genuine because National Examinations Council (NECO) had not been established at the time Adeleke claimed to have sat for the examination.