Why Governorship Tribunal Upheld Okowa, Lalong Elections

The Delta State governorship election tribunal sitting in Asaba the state capital has thrown out the petition by the Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Great Ogboru, and his All Progressives Congress, APC, counterpart in the state Olorogun O’tega Emerhor against the PDP.

The tribunal upheld the election of the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.

In its judgement, the tribunal held that the APC could not prove that the governorship poll was characterised by irregularities.

It described the petition by Emerhor and APC as “unusual”, as they did not lead with credible evidence to establish the allegation of corrupt practices alleged by them in their petition.

Ogboru had dragged Governor Okowa, PDP and INEC to the tribunal, saying the declaration of the election results in 21 of the 25 local government areas of the state were invalid on grounds of alleged irregularities and over voting.

Ogboru also alleged that INEC announced the results before compilation was completed and the number of recorded votes exceeded the number of accredited votes by the card readers.

On his part, the APC candidate, Emerhor, urged the tribunal to nullify the election based on alleged irregularities, violence and non-compliance with the relevant electoral laws

In his response to those allegations, Justice Gumi said: “the petitioners have not been able to prove beyond reasonable doubt, allegations of snatching of ballot boxes and stuffing of ballot boxes. In addition, the petitioners failed to prove the cases of corrupt practices on election day as alleged in the petition. The first respondent is the duly elected governor of Delta State.”

The tribunal went on to query the petition itself saying “the petition contained only 17 paragraphs. It is on seven pages of A4 paper and on one and a half type space. There are 25 local government areas in Delta State and by virtue of polling units, there are at least, 3,329 polling units in the state. One would have thought that there would have been pleadings on what transpired in the polling units but this was not the case.”

It said it was, therefore, not surprised at what it described as “the lean pleadings” of the petition, as the petitioners dwelt more on the use of card readers vis a vis their deployment for the election and the legality of INEC introducing it in the first instance, instead of proving the allegation of corrupt practices they canvassed.

The tribunal held that both petitions were incompetent and dismissed them.

The three-man tribunal’s chairman, Justice Nasiru Gunmi, also directed the plaintiff to pay fines of 50,000 naira to each of the respondents.

The first respondent in the case is the Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa while the second and third respondents are the PDP and the electoral commission, INEC.

The APC candidate, Olorogun Emerhor, in his reaction,    rejected the verdict of the tribunal, saying that he would appeal the judgment and stretch it to the Supreme Court if need be.

He declared: “This is the first- level court. We will appeal and eventually to the Supreme Court. Our case is not different from that of Rivers and Akwa Ibom cases. They will all be tested at the higher courts.”

Chief Ogboru, speaking through the chairman of LP, Chief Tony Ezeagu, who left the tribunal immediately it threw out Ogboru’s petition, also said his party would appeal the judgment.

Not everyone was unhaoppy with the outcome of this process though…The victorious Governor Okowa praised the judgment, describing it as a victory for democracy, saying, “The judiciary has come of age, and their judgment was thorough. It was a fair and landmark judgment.  Today, I call on the opposition to join hands with me to develop Delta State and wipe out the tears of the people.”

Similarly, The Plateau State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal has upheld the victory of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State in the April 11 governorship poll.

Pwajok-and-Lalong

Gyang Shom Nyam Pwajok (or GNS Pwajok as he is popularly called) of the Peoples Democratic Party and his party had dragged Lalong of the All Progressives Congress, before the tribunal, alleging irregularities in the April poll, asking the panel to nullify the election and declare Pwajok the winner.

The tribunal, which ruled on the petition in Jos, the state capital, dismissed the petitioners’ petition for lacking in merit.

In dismissing Pwajok’s petition, the Plateau tribunal said the petitioner failed to prove his case that the election that produced Lalong was characterized by electoral malpractices that could warrant the nullification of the election and dismissed the case for lack of credible evidence to prove his petition.

It also held that the issues of malpractice, over-voting and intimidation brought before the tribunal lacked substantial evidence to support the allegation that the election was marred by irregularities.

The petitioner was ordered to pay a fine of N50,000 to each of the three respondents

Earlier, The Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Jos barred journalists from covering the judgment on the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its against the victory of Governor Simon Lalong of the All Progressives Congress.

Stern-looking riot policemen and operatives of the Department of State Services turned back journalists who had arrived early for the verdict.

They said they were acting on the order of the tribunal

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