This is an official response from Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru to the Appeal Court verdict of September 22, 2011. The statement, made available to Blank NEWS Online was signed by Doyin Iyiola, media consultant to Ogboru.
“Today the 22nd of September 2011, the Appeal Court sitting in Benin dismissed our petition on the ground that the petition has been overtaken by other political events especially the April 26 governorship election. In dismissing our petition, the court concluded that our case had become academic and possibly a waste of time.
“Justice Raphael Agbo and four other judges said that the matter had become academic because the so called winner of the election, Emmanuel Uduaghan had even completed his tenure. Finally, the judges ruled that a fresh governorship election had been conducted; a winner had emerged and had been sworn in adding that Chief Great Ogboru, the petitioner, also participated in that election. The judges curiously ruled that it had become legally impossible for them to alter the status quo were they to do so.
Their words: “Assuming the court decides to honour this petition, is it legal to order yet another rerun election or alternatively is it legally possible to declare the first respondent the winner of the election when a tenure has elapsed, another election conducted in April 2011 and a winner declared and sworn in?”
Referring to Section 180 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the judges asked again: “Do we now order another rerun, is it possible or practical to order a rerun election? The reis (issue) has become extinguished, the court will be attempting a futile academic exercise, the appeal is therefore dismissed without a cost.”
“We reject this ruling by the Appeal Court in its entirety as it only stands the truth on its head. The judges were expected to give answers to the nutty issues relating to the election and to correct the glaring errors of the tribunal which mistakenly placed the burden of prove on us as the petitioner as a reason to uphold Uduaghan’s stolen victory at the election. But instead of providing answers, the court ended up asking many more questions which remain unanswered.
“It is not our job as petitioners to provide answers to the questions raised by the Appeal Court; it is the duty of the Supreme Court. This is therefore one of the fundamental reasons that we are heading to the Supreme Court as the final arbiter in this our noble quest for justice. We need to put an end to this shenanigan and the continued rape of Delta State by those who are only interested in plundering the state’s resources using all costly and dangerous strategies to perpetually hold on to power.
“Again, our decision to go to the Supreme Court is also predicated on the all-important need for us as progressive democrats to fight to uphold the sanctity of our electoral process and to uphold the fundamental right of our people to choose their leader. We are determined to pursue this case to its logical conclusion to ensure that the collective will of Deltans prevails.
“But we need to put some questions back to the judges and indeed the entire people of this country who desire democracy and stable and progressive leadership. We are doing this just to put the issue in proper perspective and to let them conclude whether we have done anything wrong in our determined pursuit of justice.
“First Question: Given the fact that our petition followed the correct procedure all through and particular immediately after the re-run election coupled with the fact that the election tribunal actually sat and gave a verdict, can anyone rightly say that our petition was not competent or rather that it has been abandoned?
“Second: Given the legality of the court-ordered re-run election and our consistent and ceaseless legal pursuit of a legal outcome for the election, can our case really become an academic exercise?
“However, we will like Nigerians particularly all Deltans to know that we have never abandoned our case and that the re-run election was not ordered by us but by the court. We did not also set up the tribunal that sat on the re-run petition, the tribunal was set up by the President of the Court of Appeal and the tribunal actually concluded its duties within the stipulated 180 days after election.
“The April elections were also conducted by INEC and we the petitioner and everyone else were mandated to participate in that election. INEC did not have to conduct the April election knowing that our case was pending in court. And the all-important issue of competence came up during pre-hearing and the tribunal concluded then that our case was competent and not abandoned.
“On a final note, we would like to ask whether it was right to reward any form of criminality. The Appeal Court’s decision points to this fact as the usurper who once ruled Delta State illegally for three years appears to be rewarded yet again to serve another four years for being a notorious smart Alec.
“We are sure of victory at the end of the day because we will continue to rely on the Nigerian constitution. We are also assured of victory given our antecedents and the facts that providence has always proved us right. We fought the Ibori ex-convict case tenaciously but we were denied victory in Nigeria. Today, everyone knows what is happening on the same case in London.”