February 23, 2024

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the selection of Sheriff Oborevwori as the duly elected governor of Delta State. The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Oborevwori, has been declared the winner of the March 18th  governorship election conducted by the Independent Nigeria Electoral Commission (INEC).

He defeated All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Ovie Omo Agege who approached the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to challenge the results declared by INEC.

In a judgment on Friday, a five-member panel of the tribunal headed by John Okoro dismissed the appeal filed by Mr Omo-Agege over the electoral dispute.

“The appellants (Mr. Omo-Agege and APC) have failed to meet the burden of proof placed on them. The appeal is without merit and is hereby dismissed,” Okoro said while announcing the court’s unanimous decision on Friday.

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The Supreme Court confirmed the unanimous findings of both the tribunal and the Lagos Court of Appeal, which had earlier dismissed Mr. Omo-Agege’s petition, and upheld the tribunal’s decision.

Background 

Although Mr. Obolewwori won the election, Mr. Omo-Agege, a former deputy Senate president, challenged the election results, alleging serious violations of the 2022 Electoral Act. However, the Delta State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Asaba, the state capital, confirmed the legitimacy of Mr. Obolewwori’s victory.

Similarly, the Court of Appeal in Lagos upheld the election and dismissed the appeals of Mr. Omo-Agege and other opposition gubernatorial candidates in Delta State.

Mr Obolewwori received 360,234 votes, ahead of  his nearest opponent, Mr Omo-Agege, who received 240,229 votes. Ken Pera of Labour Party (LP) came third with 48,027 votes, while Great Ogbolu of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) came fourth with 11,021 votes.

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Mr. Omo-Agege’s lawyers argued in their argument in the lawsuit that the results recorded at the polling stations were not serially numbered. He said this was in violation of Article 73(2) of the Election Law.

Lawyers for the former Senate president drew the court’s attention to evidence submitted to lower courts in support of  his case, but were ignored.

“Some of the results recorded in a particular research unit did not have a serial number.”

The provisions of Article 73 (2) provide that records must be created.

“It also provides for the compulsory annulment of elections held without serial numbers.”

The lower courts did not allocate a time period to these exhibitions. The evidence submitted was ignored. Notwithstanding the concurrent judgments, my Lord should set aside these judgments.”

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However, the PDP’s lawyer, Mr. Joseph Abubu, Professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), referred to Section 137 of the Electoral Act and urged the court to dismiss the appeal.

LP’s Pera asked the Supreme Court to declare the entire election invalid and order a new election.

SDP candidate  Kenneth Gbagi said  Mr. Oborevwori was not qualified to contest the election and asked the court to annul his victory.

“This appeal has no merit and is hereby dismissed,” Mr Okoro said while contributing to the judgment dismissing the appeals of Labor and Social Democratic Party candidates.

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