From Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
There was jubilation in Benin City as the Court of Appeal yesterday upheld the judgment of the Edo State Election Petition Tribunal which affirmed Governor Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the September 28, 2016 governorship election in the state.
The court dismissed the petition filed by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as lacking in merit.
Ize-Iyamu, through his counsel, Yusuf Ali (SAN), appealed against the judgment of the Justice Ahmed Badamasi-led Edo tribunal.
But, Justice M.B. Dongban-Mensem, who delivered the judgment, said the tribunal was right to uphold Obaseki’s election.
The judge said that the tribunal did a painstaking job, and was right to dismiss Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’ petition.
Badamasi held that PDP and its candidate failed on all fronts to prove the allegations as pleaded in their petitions.
“The petitioners have failed to prove their case with credible evidence and the case is therefore dismissed.’’
The tribunal held that while the petitioners abandoned some of their pleadings, “witnesses evidences were controverted under cross examination. The much talked about ticking and over voting by the petitioners have not been specifically proved beyond reasonable doubts. And not calling witnesses to prove their allegations of corrupt practices and overvoting was fatal to their case and is deemed to have abandoned their pleadings,’’ he held.
The petitioners had listed INEC, Obaseki and the APC as first, second and third respondents.
Ize-Iyamu had asked the tribunal to nullify the election of Obaseki and declare him Ize-Iyamu winner.
He averred that INEC was wrong to have declared Obaseki winner of the Sept. 28 governorship election. He also alleged that the election was fraught with corrupt practices and over voting and that INEC did not comply with the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) in the conduct of the said election.
Expressing satisfaction over the court ruling, the immediate past governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said the Appeal Court delivered a straightforward verdict, adding that should the PDP go to the Supreme Court, they (APC) were equally sure of victory.
Also reacting to the judgment, Governor Obasedki said: “I had no doubts in my mind that, given the quality judiciary we have, it would go straight to the matter. One thing you must always know is that the truth never changes. I won the election. God has affirmed that I won the election; the court has now affirmed that I won the election”.