â€¢ Ize-Iyamu accepts verdict, congratulates governor
Tobi Soniyi in Lagos, Adibe Emenyonu in Benin and Alex Enumah in Abuja
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has pledged to double his efforts to develop his state now that the litigation over whether he won the stateâ€™s governorship election or not is over.
Welcoming the Supreme Court judgment Monday, which upheld his election, the governor who spoke in Lagos, said the courtâ€™s decision had validated his position that the election that produced him was free and fair.
Obaseki, who said the Peoples Democratic Partyâ€™s (PDP) candidate in the election, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu, had called to congratulate him, extended the olive branch to his major rival in the election to join hands with him in the interest of the people of Edo State.
The governor also pledged not to discriminate against anyone regardless of political or religious affiliations.
He said: â€œWhile we were in court, we were busy constructing the road that leads to Ize-Iyamuâ€™s house. We pledged to work for all the people of Edo State. We will not discriminate.â€
He said the Supreme Courtâ€™s judgment had invariably validated the perfection of the triumph of the will of the people and established the masses as the true and ultimate power of the nationâ€™s evolving democracy.
He expressed the hope that the verdict by the Supreme Court, which was the last and final judicial authority of the land, would give the opposition some closure and â€œenable you put an end to your quest and help you to come around and join hands with me to continue the building of our dear state which I actually started about eight months agoâ€.
He said: â€œLast month, precisely on the 10th of June and earlier on Friday the 14th of April, 2017, the Appeal Court and the election petitions tribunal, respectively gave verdicts which mirrored this one given today by the Supreme Court, confirming that truth indeed is immutable.
â€œThese serial victories at the polls and the various courts have undoubtedly given me and the good people of Edo State joy, but it should also teach us a vital lesson that at all times, no matter the severity of the odds, we must stand on the side of fidelity, honesty and truth.â€
He commended the people of the state and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, for standing by him during the election and while the cases lasted in courts.
He also thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, whom he said had been â€œimmovable in his support, wise in his counsel and showed firm commitment to democracy and good governanceâ€.
He also said he was grateful to the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his wisdom, encouragement, relentless support and skillful leadership.
â€œThe leadership of our great party, the APC, under Chief John Odigie Oyegun, remained an uncompromising pillar, keeping our party focused, passionate and effectively mobilised,â€ he added.
In his congratulatory message, Ize-Iyamu noted that the Supreme Court ruling had brought to an end his struggle and that of his party for the office of the governor of Edo State.
In a message personally signed by him and made available to journalists through the state PDP Publicity Secretary, Chris Nehiare, Ize-Iyamu, while thanking God for giving him the opportunity to seek the highest office in Edo State, also thanked his numerous followers who had been part of the struggle.
According to him, â€œToday, the Supreme Court has by its judgment brought to an end our struggle for the office of the governor of Edo State which began on 28 September 2016.
â€œI accept in good faith this decision of the highest court of our country, which affirms Mr. Godwin Obaseki as the governor of Edo State. I, therefore, congratulate Mr. Godwin Obaseki and assure him of my goodwill.
â€œI also want to use this opportunity to thank all our supporters and party men and women for their immense support, for our struggle right from the time of the election to this day that ended at the Supreme Court.
â€œLet me assure them of my acknowledgement of their various sacrifices and promise that I will always be there for them.
â€œI thank all Edo people who have been part of our struggle all the way. In our various ways, we should keep the fire burning in the quest for an Edo State of our dreams.
â€œFinally, I thank God for His grace that gave me the opportunity to seek the office. To Him be all honour and Glory. God bless Edo State.â€
The Supreme Court Monday upheld the election of Obaseki as the governor of Edo State.
The court upheld the election in an appeal brought by Ize-Iyamu, challenging the decision of the Appeal Court, which had earlier upheld the election of Obaseki.
The panel of seven justices led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, in dismissing the suit for lacking in merit, however, reserved July 21 to give its reasons for dismissing the appeal.
Ize-Iyamu had approached the Supreme Court to upturn the decision of the Appeal Court in Benin, Edo State, that upheld the decision of the Edo State Election Petition Tribunal which had affirmed the election of Obaseki.
When the matter came up Monday, Yussuf Alli (SAN), counsel to the appellant, after adopting his brief, had urged the court to allow the appeal and grant the prayers of his client.
But counsel to the respondents, after adopting their respective briefs, urged the court to dismiss the suit.
Following the adoption of briefs by counsel, the panel then stood down the case for an hour to enable the court to take a decision on the matter.
When the court reconvened, the CJN directed a member of the panel, Justice John Okoro, to deliver the judgment.
Delivering judgment, Justice Okoro held that the appeal lacked merit and dismissed it with no cost attached.
He also fixed July 24 to give reasons for the judgment.