Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba on Friday upheld the return of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the March 9, 2019 election.
In a unanimous judgement, chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Suleiman Belgore dismissed the petition of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Great Ogboru for failing to prove the allegations of voting without accreditation, illegal allocation of unlawful votes and multiple voting.
Ogboru anchored his petition marked EPT/DT/GOV/01/2019, on the allegations that the governor and his party, PDP were unduly credited with excess votes by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and that there was multiple voting as well as voting without smart card reader accreditation.
The petitioners disputed that there were over voting and multiple voting in 896 polling units across 23 our 25 local government areas of the state.
But the tribunal held that the petition suffered the problem of proof as a result of lack of specifics in its insufficient pleadings, adding further that the petition was bereft of details.
“There is gross insufficiency of pleadings in this case. The paragraphs are too generic without specifics. What the petitioners did was to lump all the polling units being disputed together
“Having faulted the petition, the petitioners failed to prove that the first respondent was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes at the election, and we so hold.
“It is incorrect to contend that the first respondent did not win the election by a majority of lawful votes. It is crystal clear that he scored a total of 925,274 votes as against 215,938 votes scored by the first petitioner.
“We find the declaration and return as shown in exhibits tendered satisfied the provision of section 25 and 69 of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended. We have no reason to upturn that declaration. This petition is gold digging, opportunistic, it failed and it is hereby dismissed,” the tribunal held.
Counsel to the petitioners, Nichols Icheko thanked the tribunal for the judgment but indicated that it will be tested. On their parts, counsels to the first and second respondents, D.D. Dodo (SAN) and A.T. Kehinde respectively described the judgment as well researched, adding that it will further enrich the nation’s electoral jurisprudence.