By Dave Okpogadie, Asaba
Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa
The election of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party in the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial election has been upheld by the Delta State Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba.
Delivering his judgment, chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Suleiman Belgore dismissed the petition of the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Great Ogboru for failing to prove the allegations of voting without accreditation, illegal allocation of unlawful votes and multiple voting.
Ogboru in his petition marked EPT/DT/GOV/01/2019, had alleged 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 argued that there were over- voting and multiple voting in 896 polling units across 23 of the 25 local government areas in 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.