Election Tribunal Reserves Judgment in Okowa, Ogboru Suit

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Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

The Delta State Election Petition Tribunal, which is chaired by Justice Suleiman Belgore, yesterday adjourned sine dine after the adoption of final written addresses by the parties involved in the legal dispute over the March 9, 2019, Delta State gubernatorial election.

Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election, Chief Great Ogboru, petitioned the tribunal to challenge the declaration of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Those joined in the suit Number EPT/DT/GOV/01/2019 were Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as 1st Respondent; PDP, 2nd Respondent while Independent National Election Commission, 3rd Respondent.

The tribunal had reserved Wednesday for hearing all interlocutory applications by concerned parties.

Counsel to Okowa, Damian Dodo (SAN), explained that the 1st Respondent’s final written address dated August 2, 2019, contained his argument on why the petition must be dismissed.

Dodo urged the tribunal to be persuaded by his legal argument therein: ‘’The petitioner is guilty of gross misapprehension as to the import of Section 9 of the Electoral Act 2015, contending the misapprehension is borne out of an erroneous understanding that accreditation and voting are one and the same thing,” Okowa’s counsel said.

Lead counsel to the PDP, A.T. Kehinde, also argued that the petition is “incurably incompetent” and “has not shown the substantiality of the alleged non-compliance on the effect on the result.”

The counsel to INEC, Olusola Baiyeshea (SAN) aligned with the submissions of the 1st and 2nd respondents, adding that the petitioner’s case had “suffered a shipwreck because the petitioner’s case is based on card reader.”

However, the petitioner’s counsel, Mr. N. Ichekor, prayed the tribunal to dismiss all the respondents’ applications and award punitive cost as the applications were merely a time-wasting gimmick.

Specifically, Ichekor faulted the application of the 1st Respondent dated May 3, 2019 for being vague and does not meet the legal requirements. He argued that ‘’Motion 6’’ was a frivolous application as it was filed outside pre-hearing period without the leave of court.

“We humbly adopt the entirety of the written address as our argument to pray that the reliefs sought in the petition that he (Ogboru) scored the highest number of lawful votes be granted,” Ichekor said.