The Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed the elections of four governors; Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia State), Darius Ishaku, (Taraba State) and Abubakar Bello (Niger State).
In four separate judgments, a seven-man panel of the court, led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, held that the appellants failed to prove their cases.
Justice Centus Chima Nweze, who read the lead judgment in the appeal marked: SC/1455/2019, on the Delta State governorship election, held that Great Ogboru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) failed to prove his allegation of irregularities.
Justice Nweze agreed with the submissions by Damian Dodo, SAN, (for Okowa), Akinlolu Kehinde, SAN, (for the PDP) and John Baiyeshea, SAN, (for the Independent National Electoral Commission) to the effect that the appeal was a waste of the court’s time.
The judge agreed with Kehinde’s submission that Ogboru, who challenged elections in 896 polling units, only called witnesses in respect of five polling units, which was greatly inadequate.
In further holding that the appellant, who was the petitioner at the tribunal, failed in establishing his case, Justice Nweze noted that although Ogboru tendered voters’ registers, he failed to demonstrated and linked them with his case as required by law.
Justice Nweze said their was no reason for the Supreme Court to tamper with the concurrent decisions of the two lower courts – the tribunal and Court of Appeal – which earlier upheld Okowa’s election.
He said:”This appeal is a share waste of the court’s precious time. There is no merit in the appeal and it is hereby dismissed.”
Justice Nweze proceeded to declare: I hereby uphold the election of the 1st respondent (Okowa) as the validly elected candidate of Delta State.
Other members of the panel: Rodes-Vivour, Musa Datijo Muhammad, Amina Augie, Paul Galumje, Ejembi Eko, Uwani Abba-Aji agreed with the lead judgment.
Justice Galumje, who read the lead judgment in the appeal, marked: SC/1465/19, agreed with Ikpeazu’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) that the appellant, Alex Otti of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) failed to prove his case.
The judge was of the view the Otti’s heavy reliance on card reader report, in his attempt to prove his claim of over voting, was not helpful.
He noted that the position of the law is that card reader report has not displaced voters’ register in proving over-voting in election, in view of the provision of Section 46 of the Electoral Act, which provides for manual accreditation.
Justice Galumje held that the petitioner at the tribunal, Otti filed to demonstrate the documentary evidence he tendered as required, but merely dumped them on the tribunal.
Ikpeazu has hailed the Supreme Court’s decision, upholding his election. He said the decision has has finally put the case against case over his re-selection to rest.
Speaking for the governor, his Chief of Staff, Dr. Anthony Agbazuere said ”the appellant has dragged the governor to court for about 10 times and the governor defeated him in all the 10 times.