The Delta State Governorship Elections Petitions Tribunal yesterday affirmed the victory of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as winner of the April 11 governorship election.
The three-man panel, headed by Justice Nasir Gnmi, threw out the petitions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, O’tega Emerhor, and the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Great Ogboru.
Justice Gunmi dismissed Emerhor’s petition.
The tribunal’s decision was based on three issues for adjudication.
They are: whether or not the petition was competent, bearing in mind the requirements of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and the Electoral Act; whether or not the petitioner had the locus standi to maintain the petition; whether or not the election on April 11 was not conducted in substantial compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act and which non-compliance substantially affected the outcome of the election and whether or not the petitioner proved that the first respondent was not elected by majority of lawful votes cast.
On whether or not the first respondent was elected by majority of the lawful votes cast at the election, Justice Gunmi held that this “has becomes a mute issue in view of his return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the lawful authority to act in this matter”.
On locus standi, the tribunal chairman held that the APC candidate “has requisite locus standi to file and maintain this petition”.
The issue of whether the petition was not signed by the petitioner, Justice Gumi resolved this in favour of the respondents.
He said: “Sequel to the finding that the petition is initiated contrary to the provision of Section 432 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2010, as amended, in that only the first petitioner signed the petition. The issues were not established in accordance with extant laws. The concomitance of the issues aforesaid in this petition is without merit; it is bound to fail and it fails. It is hereby dismissed. It follows that the election and return of the first respondent as the duly elected governor of Delta State is affirmed. Each set of respondent shall be entitled to N50,000 as cost of prosecuting the petition.”
Justice Gunmi struck out Ogboru’sn suit.
Ogboru lost on three of the four grounds formulated by the tribunal for adjudication.
It ruled in favour of Ogboru on grounds that he lacked locus standi to institute and maintain the petition.
On the issue of jurisdiction, Justice Gunmi held that the tribunal had the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
On the issue of over voting, Gunmi held that the Labour Party candidate failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that over voting took place in the election.
The tribunal further held that Ogboru was unable to prove allegations of corrupt practices, violence and electoral malpractices
Gunmi also awarded N50, 000 costs in favour of the three sets of respondents.