The Delta State government, Thursday, said that the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, did not overturn the election of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori, following its ruling on the appeal brought before it by the governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Ken Pela.
The appellate court had in a ruling earlier in the day, granted the prayers of the appellants, Pela and LP, ordering that the petition be returned to the tribunal and be heard on its merit.
The tribunal had on July 6 this year dismissed Pela’s petition against the declaration of Oborevwori as the duly elected governor of the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the basis that the LP candidate, who came third, abandoned his petition.
This followed the argument of Damian Dodo, who was the lead counsel to the 2nd and 3rd respondents (Oborevwori and Onyeme, respectively), that the petitioner failed to avail himself of the seven-day window to apply for a pre-hearing notice and that the petitioner also failed to apply for another pre-hearing notice, thereby rendering his petition abandoned.
He stated that Pela only applied for pre-hearing notice on May 19 before the close of pleadings; hence, the petition was premature, incompetent and should be dismissed.
Chairperson of the tribunal, Justice C.H. Ahuchaogu, on July 5, said: “The petition was incompetent and a flagrant violation of paragraph 18, sub-section one of the Fourth Schedule of the Electoral Act 2022,” and, therefore, dismissed the petition at the resumed hearing on July 6 in favour of Oborevwori and Onyeme.
Dissatisfied, Pela challenged the ruling, which was on technical grounds, at the Court of Appeal, which, Thursday, ordered the tribunal to hear the petition on its merit.
Reacting to the news that the Appeal Court had sacked Oborevwori and declared Pela as governor of the state, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Festus Ahon, yesterday, in Asaba, said the Higher Court only ordered the tribunal to hear the case.
Meanwhile, National Chairman of the LP, Julius Abure, has applauded the Appeal Court’s judgement in Delta governorship election, which, he said, is victory for democracy.
A statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, quoted Abure to have said that the order was a clear testimony that judiciary can be effective, impartial, and truly the conscience of the masses.
Abure also urged other judicial institutions in Nigeria to take a cue from the Asaba Appeal Court and dispense judgment without fear or favour no matter who is involved.