Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The Court of Appeal in Benin City, capital of Edo State friday dismissed the appeal by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as lacking in merit, and upheld the decision of the Election Petition Tribunal which in its judgment of April 14, 2017, declared Godwin Obaseki as winner of the September 28, 2016 governorship election.
Striking out the appeal, the court, led by Hon. Justice Dongban-Mensen, ruled that the Justice Ahmed Badamasi-led Tribunal did a pain-staking job in its judgement, and so deserved commendation, adding that the tribunal should be commended for properly evaluating all the witnesses’ evidence and ascribing “probative value” to it.
The Appeal Court judgment read by Justice M.O. Bolaji Yusuf, also held that the PDP, from the evidence-led, did not prove their case to warrant the nullification of the election or a declaration of Pastor Ize-Iyamu as the winner.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of governorship election haven pulled majority of the votes cast.
Aggrieved by INEC declaration, the PDP candidate approached the Election Petition Tribunal, demanding that he be declared the winner instead of the APC candidate who was pronounced by INEC.
In the judgment, the tribunal affirmed the pronouncement of Obaseki winner of the governorship election.
Still not satisfied, Ize-Iyamu filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal with 41 grounds of appeal which was reduced to nine issues for determination.
But in its judgment yesterday the five-man panel upheld the judgment of the lower tribunal which affirmed Godwin Obaseki of the APC.
According to the five-man appeal panel, the 2nd responded, Godwin Obaseki was candidate of the 3rd Responded APC.
That at the conclusion of the election, Godwin Obaseki, who was candidate of the APC was declare as winner and returned by INEC as having won majority votes in the September 28, 2016 governorship election
Justice Yusuf in the five minutes judgment, also noted that the 1st and 2nd appellant were aggrieved by the declaration of the 2nd respondent as the duly elected governor of Edo State, hence they presented a petition.
“Parties called their witnesses and delivered addresses. At the conclusion, their petition was dismissed by the tribunal”, she said.
Continuing, Justice Yusuf stressed: ” Aggrieved by the dismissal of their petition, the 1st and 2nd appellant filed a notice of appeal containing 41 grounds of appeal. Nine issues were distilled from the grounds of appeal. The respondents also formulated their own issues.
“In considering all issues formulated by led counsels, we found that the nine issues formulated by the appellant counsel were sub-summed into (2) two issues:
“One whether the tribunal properly evaluated the evidence and gave correct collative value to it.
” Two, whether in considering the entire evidence before the tribunal, the tribunal was right in holding that the appellant failed to prove his petition.
“We also noted that separate objection were filed by 2nd and 3rd respondent and their objection was overruled.
“We considered all the issues and at the end, we found that the decision of tribunal as has been shown was unassailable. The tribunal carried out a painstaking detail and thorough dissipation of all aspect in the appellant’s case
“Having resolved all the two issues, we found that the appeal was rhetoric and the appeal is here by demised”, she declared
Reacting to the judgement, counsel to PDP and the party chairman, Imariagbe Edewi and Chief Dan Orbih respectively, said they are not satisfied with the ruling and as such, will proceed to the Supreme Court.
However, Governor Godwin Obaseki who was highly elated by the appeal court judgement, said: “I had no doubts in my mind that, giving the quality judiciary we had, it would go straight to the matter. One thing you must always know is that the truth never changes. I won the election. God has affirmed that I won the election; the court has now affirmed that I won the election.
“No matter how hard they (opposition) try, they cannot change the truth. I am sure they will appeal, we will meet at the Supreme Court and it will be the same verdict.”
“I thank them for their patience with us. We want to assure them that we are not distracted and we will continue on our path to recovery, on our path to progress.
“We have done a little bit of work. I know that people are pleased with what we have done. But I want to assure them that it is only the beginning. I want to assure them that with the continued support we are receiving from Edo people, we will put in everything we have to make sure that Edo State becomes the state that it should be”.
Also in his reaction, immediate past governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said “at the first time when I said that the petition is like the one filed by “Mama Alakara”, they tried to twist it”.
He said you can see that even at the level of the court of appeal, they used more harsh words that the decision of the tribunal is unassailable.
According to him, ” I just hope that the PDP will understand that their rigging machine has been dismantled since 2007. They can return it, they can’t succeed and our people will not welcome them back.
“It is now Godwin will concentrate on his mandate and am happy he is doing well. Now we know that with the clarity of the position, even it they go to the Supreme Court, or World Court, we will defeat them”.