Tribunal Sacks James Manager, Hope Rises for Uduaghan

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  • Igbakpa, loses as Omo-Agege, Ogor, others win

Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba and Sylvester Idowu in Warri

Former Delta State governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan’s hope of representing Delta South in the Nigerian Senate might have been rekindled, following the nullification of the election of Senator James Manager by the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal in Asaba, Delta State on Saturday.

The tribunal ordered a repeat of the exercise within 90 days, while nullifying INEC’s declaration of Manager of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the 2019 Delta South senatorial election, in which Dr Uduaghan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) received the second highest votes.

The tribunal agreed with the petitioner’s claim of over-voting and subsequently ordered fresh election.

Chairman of tribunal panel, Justice O.O Onyeabo, immediately ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Manger for a re-run election.

In a ruling which lasted over three hours, Justice Onyeabo stated that the defendants, Manager and the PDP, could not defend the allegation of over-voting and irregularities leveled against them by Uduaghan and the APC.

Thus, in a unanimous judgement, the panel cancelled the election and ordered for a fresh election within 90 days.

The areas in dispute were Burutu, Bomadi, Patani, Isoko North, Warri South-West and Warri North Council Areas of the District.

Reacting to the judgement, Manager vowed to challenge the tribunal judgement at the Appeal Court in Benin.
Speaking through his lawyer, Mr Larry Selekeowei (SAN), the senator said they were not satisfied with the judgement but would study and appeal it.

Uduaghan, a former secretary to state government (SSG) and member of the state executive council between 1999 and 2007, had served the maximum two terms of eight years from 2007 to 2015 as governor on the platform of the PDP.
He subsequently switched to the APC, where he emerged the APC presidential and governorship campaign chairman in the state, when it became clear that four times senator, Manager, would not rescind his decision to secure the district’s PDP ticket yet again in the run-up to the 2019 election.

In his own reaction, Uduaghan hailed the judgment on Sunday but said he was dissatisfied with tribunal ruling, saying he intended to appeal the judgement.

According to the former governor, he expected outright declaration as winner of the election and not the ordering of fresh election by the tribunal.

Uduaghan, in a statement, thanked the people of Delta South and supporters, whom he said had been waiting for the outcome of the judgement.

Uduaghan, however, dedicated his temporary victory to the people of Delta South, assuring them of total victory at the Court of Appeal.

In another development, election of the senator representing Delta Central and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege of the APC was upheld by the election petitions tribunal.

The petition filed by Hon Evelyn Oboro, the candidate of the PDP and former member of the House of Representatives, against the return of Omo-Agege by INEC failed at the tribunal.

Similarly, the tribunal in Delta upheld the election of former minority leader in the House of Representatives, Hon Leo Ogor of the PDP.

This followed the dismissal of the petition of former Delta internal revenue boss, Mr Joel Onowakpo-Thomas of the APC, challenging the election of Ogor in respect of the Isoko Federal Constituency.

Elsewhere, the seeming political stranglehold of former governor James Ibori on Delta Central and Urhobo ethnic nationality may have suffered a severe blow as his kinsman, Mr Ben Igbata of the PDP had his election voided by the tribunal ruling.

The tribunal set aside the INEC declaration of Igbakpa as the duly elected representative of Ethiope Federal Constituency of Delta State, declaring the petitioner, Hon Halims Agoda of the APC as the duly elected candidate, having secured the highest number of valid votes at the election.

Agoda, a lawyer and one time member of the House of Representatives from Jese, would replace Igbakpa from Oghara (Ibori’s hometown) both in Ethiope West Local Government Area of the state.

The Delta petitions tribunal, however, dismissed petition against the election of Chief Thomas Ereyitomi (PDP) for Warri Federal Constituency filed by Hon Daniel Reyenieju of the APC.

The petition by former Speaker, Hon Monday Igbuya failed against the election of Hon Afe for the Uvwie/Okpe/Sapele federal constituency.