The Osun Election Petition Appeal Court panel sitting in Abuja was yesterday told to set aside Justice Peter Obiora’s majority decision for being judicial hearsay.
Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), the leading counsel to Governor Gboyega Oyetola argued before the Court that Justice Obiora who was member number one did not sit on the panel on the day the Petitioners’ Witness number 74 gave evidence before the Tribunal.
This act of Justice Obiora, the senior advocate stated, amounted to judicial hearsay that cannot be allowed to stand.
The Silk argued that though Obiora’s name was listed as one of the three judges sitting on the panel, the judge did not sign as having participated in the proceedings of that day.
This flaw, he insisted has rendered the majority judgment of the Tribunal a nullity.
Olanipekun told the court that he appeared before for Governor Oyetola the Tribunal that day while also mentioning the names of other lawyers including Chief N. O. O. Oke, (SAN) for the petitioners.
The silk said “The Chairman (Justice Mohammed Sirajo) and Member number two (Justice Gbolagunte) were the ones who conducted proceedings that day. I was there, N. O. O. Oke (SAN) was there. Member number One, Honourable Justice Peter Obiora was not there.”
According to the Silk, “The respondents are saying that Justice Obiora’s signature was not there on that day. They are referring to the the list where his name was but he did not sign because he was not there.”
He explained the implication of Justice Obiora’s judgment based on the evidence given by a star witness on a day the Judge was not in Court to adjudicate as fatal to such decision.
“A judge who did not participate in all the proceedings and then came later to write and deliver the majority judgment has no precedence. There cannot be anything like judicial hearsay”, Olanipekun submitted further.
The basis of judicial officers personally being in court to adjudicate in a Court proceedings was to prevent acting by proxy.
He said “Adjudication in not video watching. Adjudication cannot be done by proxy. No one is omnipotent and omnipotent. Justice Obiora was not there and he adjudicated.
Responding, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) countered that Justice Obiora was in Court on the day in contention.
The SAN insisted that the name of Obiora the Member number one was on the proceedings that day though he did not sign the proceedings.
That the Judge whose name was listed on the proceedings but did not sign at the end was a mere irregularity that cannot amount to a nullity.