THE Delta state re-run election petition tribunal sitting in Asaba, has dismissed the petition filed by Chief Great Ogboru of the Democratic Peoples party (DPP), challenging the declaration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the January 6, 2011 re-run governorship election in the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The three and half hour judgement was delivered amid very tight security checks and heavy presence of bomb disposal experts on Monday, July 25, 2011.
Justice Uzoamaka Doris Ogwurike, in her judgement dismissed Ogboru’s petition on the grounds that the evidences of proof by the respondents overrides that of the petitioners.
She ruled that: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) substantially complied with the provisions of the 2006 Electoral Act and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended in the conduct of the January 6, 2011 re-run election.
“The petitioners are not entitled to any of the reliefs being sought.
“The petioner did not score the highest number of lawful votes or the total of the lawful votes cast in the contended eight local governments of Delta state for their return at the election.
While ruling further, Justice Ogwurike asserted that all the witnesses and evidences presented by the petitioner that elections were not conducted in eight local government areas of the state were rebutted by the respondents’ witnesses and documentary evidences, which outweighed the petitioner’s claims.
She therefore ruled that “Accordingly, this petition is thereby dismissed.”
Reacting to the judgment, Governor Uduaghan in a statement by his media aide, Phrank Shaibu described the ruling as “a cast-iron victory for truth and a clear cut expression of the electoral wishes of the good people of Delta State”.
“I am proud of the courageous judgement. Truth and electoral wishes of the people have prevailed. I congratulate the judges on the tribunal who acted like modern day Daniels, for their courageous judgement.”
“Despite the victory at the tribunal, there is no victor no vanquished. Deltans should put aside their political differences and join him in the task of building a new Delta state that will be the envy”.
But, younger brother of Chief Ogboru, Turner said “The petition has only been kept in suspense. The petition is alive and we will go to the Court of Appeal.
“In the judgement that has just been delivered, there is a misconception in the burden of proof to no voting instead of no election. That was where the judges got it wrong and when that is corrected at the Court of Appeal, like it was corrected on the November 9, 2011, they will lose again.”
Mr. Ken Mozia (SAN), Counsel to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan described the judgement as painstakingly prepared, adding that the legal team are prepared to meet Ogboru at the Appeal Court in Benin and the ongoing April 26, 2011 election petition tribunal in the state.
“The issue really is that they have to make up their mind on what they really want. You cannot be fighting several battles on the same front. What is in issue is office of the governor of Delta state. You cannot be pursuing in the Tribunal, Federal High Court and everywhere. You need to make up your mind which one you want to face and you face it diligently instead of dissipating too much energy.”
In his reaction, the state commissioner for information, Barr. Christopher Chike Ogeah lamented that the legal battle has caused a lot of distractions to the development agenda of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
“Whether you like it or not, these distractions are all over the place and once this is going on, it departs from what we, in the executive are trying to do for the people of Delta state, who we believe deserve and must get the best form of government”.
Governor Uduaghan is still grappling with one of Ogboru’s petitions at another election petition tribunal sitting in Asaba over the April 26, 2011 governorship election in Delta state.
Meanwhile, the Okpe Union Worldwide has congratulated Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan on the declaration by the Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Asaba that he was duly elected as Governor of Delta State in the rerun election of January, 2011.
The union in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Mr. Henry Ebireri assured Governor Uduaghan of the full support and cooperation of the Okpe people in the performance of his duties.
The union also asked Governor Uduaghan to settle down and focus on the agenda of transforming the oil rich Delta State.
Also the state Deputy Governor, Prof. Amos Utuama (SAN) said the “Opposition should see the hand of God in the victory at the Tribunal and should join Governor Uduaghan to build our state”, disclosing that Governor Uduaghan has been extending the olive leaf to the opposition for them to join him in ensuring that the series of court cases becomes a thing of the past for all efforts to be geared towards the development of the state.
On whether the opposition will go to Court of Appeal, the Deputy Governor said such would amount to unnecessary venture but that the present administration is ready for them, should they Appeal.