ASABA – The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, Edo State capital, on Monday changed the political calculations in Delta State and put to rest the all political apprehensions.
The court affirmed the election victories of the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo- Agege,
The court affirmed the decision of the Election Tribunal which had earlier upheld the election of Omo-Agege who won on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta Central.
Hon. Evelyn Oboro, who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, was challenging the declaration of the Deputy President of the Senate as the winner of the election in the district.
But in a unanimous ruling delivered by Justice A Jauro led on Monday, dismissed Oboro’s petition for lack of merit and subsequently upheld the ruling of the election petition tribunal which had earlier affirmed Omo-Agege’s victory.
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Similarly, the Court of upturned the decision of the election tribunal which nullified the senatorial election in Delta South Senatorial District won by Senator James Manager of the PDP.
The had nullified Manager’s election in a petition filed by a former governor of Delta State and candidate of the APC in Delta South, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.
In a ruling in September, the tribunal canceled the election and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh election in the district with 30 days.
But the Court of Appeal last Monday dismissed the former Governor’s petition challenging the election victory of Senator Manager and set aside the ruling of the Delta Election Petitions Tribunal which earlier nullified the election in the district.
Uduaghan, who said he had accepted the outcome of the Appeal Court judgment, regretted the appeal panel based their judgment on pre-election matter which was introduced at the appellate court and was not addressed at the tribunal level.
He stated this in his official reaction to the Appeal Court judgment in a statement personally signed by him. “The loss at the Appeal Court today, was as a result of a pre-election matter that the court entertained. This was a matter that was not addressed at the lower tribunal, which ought to be the first place that any prayer whatsoever relating to election matters should have been introduced. Well, the judiciary has had their say and I have accepted the outcome in good faith. I must put on record that it was a period of experiencing the “enemy within” at another level.”
He, however, urged his supporters across the senatorial district not to be despair with the judgement, but rather value the experience garnered throughout the electioneering period. According to him, the contest has opened the frontier of peace among the different ethnic nationalities in the senatorial district, adding that his biggest gain from the election was the peaceful atmosphere that existed among the people of the area.
The statement titled, “The Journey Was Far More Important Than The Outcome” noted that “There is no winning or losing” in the contest. While recalling why he withdrew from the race in 2014, Uduaghan posited that he was happy that the exercise was peaceful throughout the election and commended the people of the district for their support for his aspiration to represent them in the hollowed chamber.
According to the statement, “It is no longer news that the outcome of today’s Appeal Court judgment did not go in my favour as the judgment of the Election Petitions Tribunal in Asaba was set aside by the Appellate Court sitting in Benin City.
“I want to first appreciate everyone who were in the trenches with me throughout this journey. Please do not despair. There is no winning or losing, but rather the value is in the experience of imagining yourself as a character in whatever genre you’re involved in, whether it is politics or any other endeavor.
“I cherish the input of everyone -family, friends, political party, supporters and the good people of Delta South Senatorial District. I am happy that throughout the elections and the tribunals, our peaceful process as a Senatorial District was tested. Recall I withdrew from the race in 2014 as a result of the threat to peace.
“In 2019, however, an itsekiri man could campaign freely in Ijaw area and an Ijaw man could campaign freely in itsekiri area. Itsekiris voted for Ijaws, and Ijaws voted for Itsekiris. There was no case of violence anywhere. For me this is a big victory for peace in our Senatorial District.”
The APC leader disclosed that he had formally called his opponent, Senator Manager to officially congratulate him on his victory at the Appeal Court. I have formally called my brother, Sen James Manager to congratulate him. My brother, Sen James. Manager, congratulations once more on your victory. I wish you well as you represent our people at the hollowed Chamber again.
“The contest is over now, it is in the past. I urge my supporters to put this behind them and focus on the future which holds a lot in store for all of us”, the release added.
House of Representatives members from Delta Central Senatorial District in the February 23, 2019 National Assembly election was not left out. Members whose elections were affirmed by the appellate court are Rev. Francis Waive, APC, Ben Igbakpa, PDP and Efe Afe, PDP.
The court dismissed the petition filed by the PDP candidate, Chief Samuel Marierie, for failing to prove alleged over voting and irregularities in the election. The Court upturned the decision of the tribunal which sacked the member representing Ethiope Federal Constituency, Hon. Ben Igbakpa of the PDP.
The court held that the tribunal erred by declaring the candidate of the APC, Hon. Halims Agoda as the winner of the election. Also, the election of Hon. Efe Afe of the PDP representing Uvwie, Okpe and Sapele Federal Constituency was also upheld by the learned justices.
Similarly, Waive says his victory at the Court of Appeal on Monday would spur him for greater performance.
Waive, who dedicated the appellate court judgment to his constituents, thanked the people for supporting and praying for all through the legal tussle.
The Appeal Court quashed the appeal petition filed by Marierie on the ground that suit lacked merit.
In a statement signed by his aide, Bunor Agbomedarho, he commended the appeal panel for the sound judgment and that all legal battles filed against the federal lawmaker were over, “it was time” to deliver on the campaign promises to the people of the area.
Waive stated, “We salute all our supporters that have taken out time in prayers and support. Once again, we reassure you that we shall not let them down. We also congratulate our Brothers and Sisters in all the other political parties for their sportsmanship”
“We have all played our respective roles well. Today has officially closed all issues relating to and emanating from the 2019 elections. We must now be fully focused on delivering dividends of democracy to our people.
“More than ever before, this judgment will spur me to higher performance, increased zeal and more commitment to see our people benefit immensely from the next level administration.”
While hailing the judgment, the cleric turned politician said “The Judiciary is indeed the last hope of our people.”