The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Monday reserved judgment in the appeal brought before it by candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Great Ogboru against the election of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as Governor of Delta State.
A five-member panel of justices of the appellate court led by Justice Uzo Ndukwe-Anyanwu reserved judgment to a date that would be communicated to parties shortly after counsel adopted and argued their brief of argument in the appeal.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are the respondents in the appeal, where-in Ogboru and his party, APC are seeking to upturn the decision of the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which returned Okowa for a second term as governor of Delta State.
INEC had declared Okowa and PDP winner of the March 9 governorship election in Delta State, haven scored the majority of the lawful votes cast in the election.
But the appellants, in a 37-ground of appeal filed by their counsel, Nicholson Ichekor, asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the entire judgment of the tribunal on the grounds that the tribunal erred in law when it dismissed their appeal for lacking in merit.
The three-man panel of the governorship election panel led by Justice Suleiman Belgore, had in September dismissed Ogboru and APC’s petition against the return of Governor Okowa on grounds that the petitioners failed to prove the cases of irregularities and malpractices claimed in their petition.
However, in the appeal against the decision of the tribunal, Ogboru and APC argued that the lower court erred in law when it relied on the issue of over-voting instead of allocation of votes as canvassed in their petition to dismiss their petition.
The appellants, in urging the court to nullify Okowa’s election claimed that in some polling units, the total number of votes cast at the election exceeded the total number of voters who were accredited to vote, adding that there was non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act in relation to accreditation of voters.
However, in response to the appeal, Okowa and the PDP urged the Court of Appeal to dismiss Ogboru and APC’s appeal for being incompetent and unmeritorious.
In their brief of argument by Damien Dodo (SAN) and Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN), for Okowa and PDP respectively, the respondents submitted that the appellants failed to prove their allegations of over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
While the respondents claimed that they have led cogent, credible and reliable evidence to show that they won the governorship election held on March 9 in Delta State, they submitted that the appellants on the other hand failed to prove how their claims of over-voting and non-compliance substantially affected the results of the election.
In an attempt to prove their case, the appellants called twenty witnesses and tendered a total of 4,523 documents in evidence during the trial.
In defence of the petition, the 1st respondent called seven witnesses and tendered 94 Exhibits, while the 2nd respondent called three witnesses and tendered six exhibits.
The 3rd respondent did not call any witness but tendered two exhibits.
But the tribunal in a unanimous judgment dismissed the petition for being incompetent and lacking in merit.