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Appeal court upholds Okowa’s polls victory


Okowa-3-17-1-15Ogboru, Emerhor lose again
THE victory of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa at the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Delta State yesterday received a higher judicial seal as the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja upheld his election

In doing so, the Court of Appeal affirmed the verdict of the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal delivered on October 26, 2015, wherein it declared Okowa as the valid winner of the said governorship polls.

In a similar vein, the Appeal Court also dismissed the appeal filed by Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, challenging the decision of the same Election Petition Tribunal, which upheld the election of Ifeanyi Okowa as Governor
Emerhor, like Ogboru had approached the tribunal, urging it to nullify the declaration of Okowa as winner of the state Governorship Election on April 11, 2015 on the ground of over-voting and the fact that the election was conducted without non-compliance with the electoral act.

But the tribunal in its judgment of October 26, 2015, dismissed the petitions for lacking merit.
Dissatisfied, Emerhor appealed to the Court of Appeal, seeking to upturn the tribunal verdict, but failed as the Appeal Court affirmed it.

In the unanimous judgment of the appellate court delivered by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji on Emerhor’s appeal, the court held that held that most authentic way of proving over-voting is by relying on voter register, which the appellant failed to tender or rely on.

In a unanimous verdict on the appeal filed by the Labour Party’s governorship candidate in the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Delta State, Chief Great Ogboru, seeking to upturn it, the five man panel found no merit in it.

According, the panel presided over by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji having held that the appeal was devoid of merit, agreed with the lower tribunal’s decision to dismissed Ogboru’s petition.

Specifically, in the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered by Presiding Justice Abba-Aji, the court held that Ogboru merely relied on records of the card reader accreditation without leaving credible evidence on the said document.

She held that Ogboru failed to challenge the evidence of the respondents and even his own witnesses that the card readers had challenges in many part of the states and that apart from the use of card reader, there was also manual accreditation.

Justice Abba-Aji held that it was incumbent on the appellant to prove his claimed that the card reader machines functioned optimally in all the polling units of the state before he could rely on the accreditation by‎ the card reader. She held that he failed to discharge that onus.

Vexed by the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission to declare Okowa winner of the gubernatorial poll, Ogboru approached the tribunal to get it nullified on the contentious that there was over voting.
He claimed the number of total votes recorded exceeded the number of voters accredited by the card reader machines.
He also said there was no substantial compliance with the Electoral Act regarding the conduct of the said poll.

Consequently, he prayed the tribunal to invalidate the said poll and order a rerun. However, his prayer was refused as it dismissed the petition for want of merit.

Not one to go down easily, Ogboru took his appeal to the Court of Appeal which heard the case in Benin on December 17 but relocated to Abuja to deliver its judgment yesterday, a judgment which has again gone against him.
The court also delivered five other judgments on the cross-appeals filed by Okowa and his party, the PDP. Two of the cross-appeals succeeded.

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