The Delta State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Asaba, the state capital, has dismissed the petition filed against Governor Sheriff Oborevwori by Ken Pela, governorship candidate of the Labour Party, LP, in the March 18 governorship and House of Assembly election, for abandoning his petition. Ruling on the petition on Thursday, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Chibuzo Ahuchaogu, held that the petition was incompetent and a flagrant violation of paragraph 18, subsection 1 of the 4th Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022. Pela, in his petition EPT/DL/GOV/01/23, had challenged the outcome of the governorship election in the state and sought leave of the tribunal to upturn the declaration of Oborevwori as Delta State governor. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was joined in the petition as 1st respondent, while Governor Oborevwori and his deputy, Monday Onyeme were the 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively with PDP as 4th respondent. Lead Counsel to the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Damian Dodo, a senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, had argued in an earlier application that Labour Party’s petition had been abandoned. Dodo argued that the petitioner failed to avail himself of the seven-day window to apply for pre-hearing notice.
According to him, the petitioner also failed to apply for another pre-hearing notice, effectively rendering his petition abandoned. Dodo said the petitioner applied for pre-hearing notice on May 19 before the close of pleadings and as such, the petition was premature and incompetent. Agreeing with Dodo’s submission, Justice Ahuchaogu consequently ruled that “the petition is incompetent and was issued in flagrant violation of paragraph 18, sub-section 1 of the 4th Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022. We resolve this application in favour of the 2nd and 3rd applicants. There is merit in the application seeking to dismiss this petition and accordingly, petition EPT/DL/GOV/01/2023 is hereby dismissed”.