The Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Friday dismissed the petition by former deputy senate president and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Ovie Omo-Agege challenging the victory of Sheriff Oborevwori of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the duly elected governor of the state. Affirming Oborevwore’s victory, the three-man panel headed by Chibuzo Ahuchaogu, in a unanimous decision, struck out Omo-Agege’s petition for lacking in merit.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared the former speaker of the state House of Assembly winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship poll with 360, 234 votes against Omo-Agege’s 240, 229 votes.
The former deputy senate president, who had nursed high hopes of upturning Oborevwori’s victory, has however instructed his legal team to appeal the judgment, contending that the tribunal failed to reckon with “the fundamental flaws” in the election, which he insisted “mortally rendered the declaration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner untenable”.
In their judgment, the tribunal held that the issues raised by Omo-Agege and the APC were speculative since they failed to prove their allegation of non-compliance with the Electoral Act in 1,333 polling units. Similarly, the judges said the petitioners failed to prove with cogent evidence, their alleged corrupt practices and inflation of votes. They held that the petitioners failed to prove, and/or demonstrate that the inflation of votes in Ibussa Ward 8, or other polling units substantially affected the final result of the election considering the margin of winning votes.
According to the tribunal, the petitioners’ allegation of non-filling of Forms EC25 and EC40 Series was not proved, adding that they failed to also demonstrate the non-compliance by evidence. Rather, they stressed, PW1 admitted under cross-examination that the form was filled. Their Lordships held that the petitioners’ only witness testimony in proof of over-voting was mere hearsay.
But rejecting the outcome of the case, Senator Omo-Agege, in a statement signed by his media adviser, Sunny Areh, said while he respected the decision of the tribunal, “it is flawed”.
According to the one-time secretary to the state government, SSG, “It is a no-brainer that the Tribunal operated under a very challenging environment. It therefore ignored the unassailable evidence adduced to question the validity of lawful votes as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). I respect the decision of the Tribunal, but it is flawed. I have no doubt that these flaws which the Tribunal failed to address will be dispassionately evaluated at the Court of Appeal. I have, therefore, directed my legal team to immediately proceed to the Court of Appeal and continue with the fight to restore the sanctity of the people’s vote”.