• Ize-Iyamu congratulates governor as CNPP lauds judgment
From Godwin Tsa, Abuja, Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Supreme Court, yesterday, affirmed Godwin Obaseki as governor of Edo State.
The apex court dismissed appeals filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its standard bearer, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, for lacking in merit.
This was just as governor Obaseki has described the Supreme Court judgement as well deserved and vindication of the mandate freely given him by the people.
The governor also confirmed he received a congratulatory call from Ize-Iyamu.
Speaking with newsmen in Lagos, yesterday, where the state executive council is holding a three-day retreat, Obaseki said: “We have received invaluable support from several people; we have also received guidance from a vast number of friends, supporters and well wishers. And, there are no words enough that can convey the extent of our gratitude. At the zenith of these extensive list of people and group to whom I owe gratitude of debt is our president, Muhammadu Buhari.
“He has been immovable in his support, wise in his counsel and showed firm committment to democracy and good governance. I am also immensely grateful to Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo for his wisdom, encouragement and relentless support and skifull leadeship.”
Earlier in a unanimous judgment, a seven-man panel of justices of the apex court, headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, held that both interlocutory and main appeal Ize-Iyamu lodged before it lacked merit.
The court has, however, fixed July 21, 2017, to give reasons for its judgment.
Benin Division of the Court of Appeal had earlier affirmed Obaseki’s election as governor after dismissing Ize-Iyamu’s appeal in the September 28, 2016 governorship election.
The five-member appeal panel, led by Justice M. B. Dongban-Mensem, in a unanimous decision, described Ize-Iyamu’s appeal as unmeritorious.
The appellate court agreed with the Edo State Election Petition Tribunal, led by Justice Ahmed Badamasi, which returned Obaseki as governor of the state, and said Ize-Iyamu and the PDP failed to prove before the trial court why Obaseki’s victory should be upturned.
Other members of the panel were Justices S. Tom Yakub, M. O. Bolaji-Yusuf, U. A. Ogakwu and Mohammed Mustapha.
The state election petition tribunal had, on April 14, 2017, upheld Obaseki’s election as governor of the state after dismissing PDP’s petition for lack of evidence.
Ize-Iyamu, who was not satisfied with the judgment, alongside other appellants, went to the Appellate court and raised 41 grounds of appeal and nine issues for determination, where he prayed the court to determine whether the trial tribunal was correct in its approach in considering and dismissing their case considering the defence of the respondents.
They prayed the court to allow the appeal, upturn the judgment of the tribunal and grant the main reliefs sought pursuant to Section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act.
Not satisfied with the decision of the appellate court, the PDP and its candidate, Ize-Iyamu approached the apex court to set aside the judgment and declare him winner of the governorship election.
To butress Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu has formally congratulated him on his victory at the Supreme Court.
In a statement issued in Benin, yesterday, Ize-Iyamu said the apex court has, by its judgment, brought to an end, struggle for the office.
Ize-Iyamu said he accepted in good faith, the decision of the highest court of the country, congratulated and assured him of his goodwill.
He also seized the opportunity to thank his supporters, party men and women for their support from the time of the election to the day it ended at the Supreme Court, and added that he would always appreciate and be available whenever they need his services.
On its part, Edo chapter of Conference of Nigeria Political Party (CNPP), lauded the apex court on its judgment over the governorship election tussle.
Chairman, Roy Oribhabo, gave the commendation in reaction to yesterday’s.
Oribhabo, who commended the Judiciary for “a thorough researched and articulated judgment,” said the judiciary has “once again demonstrated that it is the last hope of the commoners in Nigeria.
“This judgment has further vindicate us (CNPP) and the people of Edo state who freely voted for Governor Obaseki in the last election but some people believed otherwise.
“As major stakeholder in Edo State politics, we noted as follows immediately after the September 28, 2016 election via a World press conference.
“That INEC conducted one of the best election in Nigeria and commended the leadership for job well done.”
Also reacting, Benjoe Itute, APC treasurer in Esan Central Local Government Area, described the court verdict as victory for democracy, to the party and the people of Edo State.
He called on Ize-Iyamu to join hands with the governor to move the state forward.
“My advice for them is to cooperate with the governor; the governor needs their cooperation to move the state forward. You can see the development and what the governor is doing right now, it shows he is going to work even more than former governor Adams Oshiomhole,” he said.