Delta Election Nullification: -How It Happened -Matters Arising

The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin Tuesday November 16, 2010, sacked ersthwhile Delta State Governor Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct another election into the office within 90 days.
The court ruled in an appeal filed by Chief Great Ogboru, candidate of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) in the April 14, 2007 election.
Chief Ogboru had sued Dr. Uduaghan, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP); and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to a Federal High Court in Asaba alleging that the election was rigged in favour of Uduaghan and the PDP. But the court delivered a judgement in favour of Uduaghan, ruling that he won the election having scored more votes.
Dissatisfied with the court’s ruling, Chief Ogboru filed an appeal at the Federal Court of Appeal in Benin City the Edo State capital where a five-man panel of justices ruled that ‘the election was characterized with a lot of irregularities.’
DELTA FOCUS gathered that the court started sitting at about 3.00pm on the same day, to deliver the judgement and eventually dropped the bombshell at about 7.00pm.
In a unanimous judgment the court said: “After looking at the submissions of counsel to both parties and the submission by INEC counsel it was obvious that the election was characterized with a lot of irregularities”.
The Justices held that Uduaghan, governor since May 29, 2007, was not rightly returned as the winner of the poll.
The Court of Appeal’s unanimous judgment was read by Justice Monica Bon Gban-Mensen.
In her judgememnt, Justice Gbam-Mensen said: “After looking at the submissions of counsel to both parties and the submission by INEC counsel, it was obvious that the election was characterized with a lot of irregularities. There were a lot of election malpractices by the umpire in favour of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which placed undue advantage on him and his party at the detriment of other contestants in the election.”
The judgment, which surprised many, dragged for over three years, moving from the lower tribunal to the appeal tribunal and back to the lower tribunal before being returned to the Court of Appeal, which delivered the verdict Tuesday.
In court were A. Adenipekun (SAN) for Uduaghan, Chief E.L Akpofore (SAN) for the PDP and Ken Mozia for INEC. Some of Dr. Uduaghan’s loyalists and PDP stalwarths from Delta state, including Barr. Raymos Guanah, Chief Nkem Okwuofu, Comrade Ovuozurie Macaulay and a few Delta legislators and government House aides were also noticed in the court and vicinity.
Ironically, the Appeal Court judgement in Benin came exactly 3 years and 7Months after Alhaji Ismaila Abdulkareem, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Delta state, made the infamous declaration that gave Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan victory over about 13 (23?) candidates from other political parties that ‘participated’ in that election process, which has now been nullified.


There were two major challengers of the election of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan as governor of Delta State, after the April 14, 2007 elections. Peter Okocha, who contested on the platform of the Action Congress (AC) and Great Ogboru Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) had both gone to the Elections petitions Tribunal in Asaba to challenge the conduct and process of the election.
Okocha had approached the court to annul the election on the grounds that he was wrongfully excluded by INEC, but the defence had argued that he had no locus standi to file the petition since he was not even a proper candidate at the election he was challenging.
The averments of the defence had been upheld by the Justice Lokulo Shodipe-led tribunal that sat in Asaba. Consequently, the petition was dismissed. However many Delta watchers had believed at that time that Justice Lokulu-Shodipe had displayed some very questionable and objectionable tendencies in dispensation of his duties as Tribunal judge. Okocha subsequently proceeded to the Court of Appeal in Benin which was the final arbiter in Election matters and his case was finally dismissed on grounds which included the fact that hedid not have a proper running mate for the election.
Chief Great Ogboru, on the other hand had gone to the Tribunal to complain that there was no election on April 14, 2007. Ogboru had argued that the April 14, 2007 election was fraught with irregularities. His counsel averred: “The purported election said to have taken place on April 14, 2007 did not hold in all the 25 local government areas in that electoral materials did not get to the various local government areas, wards and polling units to declare Uduaghan as winner.” Ogboru’s counsel had even requested the tribunal to grant him permission to bring forensic experts from the London Metropolitan Poilce to take a proper look at the Ballot papers with the aim of establishing its validity, but his request was denied. He finally prayed the tribunal to order a re-election. But no one gave Ogboru a chance and as was generally anticipated, the Lokuku-Shodipe tribunal also dismissed the case.
However, the petitioners refused to accept the verdict of the Tribunal and Ogboru approached the Appeal Court, arguing that the lower tribunal misdirected itself in law by dismissing his petition. At the head of the Appeal Court that heard the case was the former President of the court, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, who not only directed that a fresh panel be constituted to hear the matter, but was said to have also echoed some very uncomplimentary comments about the performance of the Lokulu-Shodipe tribunal  in Asaba .Another five-man panel of judges, headed this time by Justice B. S. Mohammed was thus constituted to hear the petition afresh and in a unanimous verdict delivered on October 19, 2009, the Justice Mohammed tribunal held that the petitioners, who had the onus to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt, failed to do so. The petition was thus dismissed a second time.
In a swift reaction, Mr. Turner Ogboru, younger brother of the petitioner, dismissed the judgment as “another Asaba judgment” and, undaunted by the set back, the Ogboru legal team headed for the Court of Appeal again. “We are going to challenge that judgment at the Appeal Court. We will fight, until we get justice,” he said.
And on November 16, 2010, Great Ogboru finally got the justice they had been seeking when Court of Appeal in Benin and led by Justice Monica Bon Gban Mensen, ruled that there was merit in Ogboru’s petition, nullified the April 14, 2007 elections and order a re-run within 90days.
As a result,  Dr. Uduaghan and the PDP, rather than intensify the campaign for elections coming up in April 2011,  will now redirect their energies for another governorship election that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must conduct within the next 90 days. But Great Ogboru is smiling all the way and he so confident of defeating Uduaghan and the PDP even if the INEC decide to conduct the elections immediately after you finish reading this article.

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