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Jubilation in Asaba as Supreme Court affirms Oborevwori as PDP guber candidate

By Godwin Ijediogor, Monday Osayande (Asaba) and Ameh Ochojila (Abuja)
22 October 2022   |   4:06 am
There was wild jubilation and celebration in government circles and among party chieftains in Asaba, the Delta State capital, yesterday, over the Supreme Court judgment, which affirmed the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Sheriff Oborevwori, as the governorship candidate...

Oborevwori

There was wild jubilation and celebration in government circles and among party chieftains in Asaba, the Delta State capital, yesterday, over the Supreme Court judgment, which affirmed the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Sheriff Oborevwori, as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next year’s general election.

The apex court, in a unanimous decision of a five-man panel, led by Justice Amina Augie, dismissed the appeal against the ruling by the Court of Appeal, which upheld Oborevwori’s emergence as the governorship candidate from the May 25 primary in Asaba, following a suit to disqualify him filed by the first runner-up, Olorogun David Edevbie.

In its lead judgment delivered by Justice Tijjani Abubakar, the Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court that the allegations Edevbie raised before it were rooted in criminality and ought to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, adding that he ought to have commenced his action through a Writ of Summons that would allow the trial court to adjudge the matter through oral and documentary evidence.

It held that Edevbie’s allegations against Oborevwori could not be resolved through affidavit evidence or Originating Summons and that Edevbie’s case was premature, as PDP had not submitted Oborevwori’s name to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when he filed the suit.

“Only upon the submission of particulars of a candidate to INEC by a political party will a cause of action crystallise,” the court held.

The court said it saw no reason to set aside the Court of Appeal’s verdict, as sought by Edevbie, ruling: “In conclusion, I found no merit in this appeal and it is accordingly dismissed.”

Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja had earlier sacked Oborevwori from contesting the governorship election as PDP candidate on account of alleged discrepancies in his documents, following Edevbie’s suit challenging his victory.

But the Speaker appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which restored his mandate, causing Edevbie to approach the apex court for final determination of his ambition.

In his reaction, an elated Oborevwori, who described his victory as divine, dedicated his victory to God and the people of Delta State, thanking them for their unflinching support and prayers, just as he promised not to take their show of love for granted.

He said the judiciary has once again manifestly proved that it is indeed the last hope of the common man, commending the panel of Justices for their rare courage and for standing by the truth.

The speaker thanked the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and other leaders for their steadfastness and support in his nomination by the party, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for his refusal to sacrifice him in the midst of all the pressure and his colleagues for standing by him throughout the judicial journey.

He added: “At the end of it all, there is no victor and no vanquished. I enjoin all PDP faithful to put the past behind and work for the success of the party in the forthcoming general election. Together we can do more and achieve more  to advance Delta State to a newer level.”

On his part, state Chairman of the party, Kingsley Esiso, described the judgment as “a victory for PDP in Delta State,” adding: “We are going to join hands as a family to intensify our preparation for the 2023 general election. No victor, no vanquish. The winner is PDP-Delta.”

The state chapter of the party, while celebrating the judgment said, “it’s victory for the PDP family. Now the party is fully prepared to win the 2023 elections.”

In a statement signed by its state Publicity Secretary, Dr. Ifeanyi M. Osuoza, the party noted emphatically that “the long-drawn litigation over the matter had initially given the opposition false hope, but with the judgment and the matter fully settled, the PDP is now much stronger and will be more united and formidable going into the 2023 elections.”

The statement appealed to all party faithful, especially the litigant, Olorogun David Edevbie, to close ranks and march with full confidence and authority into the party’s campaigns, which has already commenced with vigour.

“The Delta State PDP heartily rejoices with all our faithful, loyal and committed members of the PDP family, as we celebrate the Supreme Court judgment, which finally confirmed Sheriff Oborevwori as our duly elected governorship candidate and party flag-bearer for the 2023 election.

“We congratulate all members of our PDP Delta family over this massive judgment, which has not only settled all doubts and disquiet in our party, but also has most importantly strengthened our position and resolve to embrace our campaigns with renewed energy and vigour, as we march towards victory in 2023.

“As we celebrate this very important landmark judgment, which is a major family victory in the life of our party, we hereby appeal strongly and sincerely to all our members, especially Olorogun David Edevbie, to wholeheartedly embrace the Supreme Court’s decision, in our collective quest to build a most formidable campaign team that will not only decimate the opposition, but also deliver resounding landslide victories in all our elections, especially the governorship poll,” the party said.

It urged all loyal, committed and unwavering members to come together as one big united family, sheathe their swords and let bygones be bygones, now that the legal fireworks are over and done with.

“Our ultimate goal now is to win the 2023 general election in all positions and with everyone joining hands and all pulling in one definite, unwavering direction towards victory, we will be totally unbeatable and even more formidable, as the party of the people. Delta is PDP and PDP is Delta.”

Senior Political Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Funkekeme Solomon, also said the judgment has strengthened Nigeria’s democratic progression.

Expressing satisfaction that the litigation over the party’s flag-bearer has been laid to rest, Solomon said the relief stems not from the outcome, but the fact that, finally, PDP in Delta can now move on with the task of ensuring that the state remains under the umbrella.

He said: “Today’s judgment, despite the long-drawn process of its resolution, is a routine exercise that underscores the robust democratic principles infused into the PDP by its founding fathers. It was essentially a contest of different approaches towards achieving the common objective of taking Delta to greater heights.

“The remarkable thing about the judgment is that the judiciary, in this case, the Supreme Court, waded in to resolve an issue that did not interrogate the fundamental democratic principles on which the PDP is built.

“In the entire exercise, Delta PDP remained an unbiased and disinterested observer, given the fact that it was entirely up to the judiciary to resolve the issue.”