Appeal Court affirms Okowa’s election, as Gov urges Ogboru to join to rebuild Delta State

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa

A five-man panel of the Court of Appeal, in Abuja on Friday dismissed the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress  (APC) in the last governorship election Delta State, Chief Great Ogboru.

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Governor Okowa

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last governorship election in Delta State, Chief  Ogboru had filed the appeal in a bid to reverse the victory recorded by Ifeanyi Okowa of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the election.

The panel, led by Justice Uzo Ndukwe-Anyanwu, dismissed the appeal on the grounds that it was “completely devoid of merit.”

However the appellate court in its judgment agreed with the submissions of the respondents that the appeal lacked merit and ought to be dismissed.

The upper court held that for the decision of a lower court to be set aside there must be evidence that such judgment was perverted, a condition which the appellants failed to prove in their appeal.

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In the lead judgment, Justice Uzo Ndukwe-Anyanwu was of the view that the tribunal was right in holding that the case of the petitioners was unmeritorious, because they called just 20 witnesses out of the over 800 polling units where election took place in the state.

More fatal to the case of the appellants, the judge noted,  was that, out of the 20 witnesses called by the petitioners, only 5 were polling unit agents, whose testimonies were insufficient to ground their case.

The judge added that the report of the smart card reader that the appellants relied on to prove over-voting could not be given importance over the voter register, because the smart card reader is a supplement to the voter register.

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He proceeded to uphold the decision of the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which affirmed Okowa’s declaration as the lawful winner of the March 9 governorship election.

”in conclusion, this court find no merit in the appeal, the appeal failed and the decision of the lower tribunal is hereby affirmed,” he said.

Ogboru and APC had, in their appeal, prayed  the appellate court to upturn the decision of the tribunal which returned Okowa for a second term in office.

At the tribunal, Ogboru and his party had alleged over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act amongst other irregularities they claimed marred the governorship election in the state.

Meanwhile, the Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, while reacting to the Appeal Court judgment, called on   Great Ogboru of the All Progressive Congress (APC) to join hands with him to build the state.

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Okowa made the appeal ,yesterday, in Asaba , during a thanksgiving service celebrating his (Okowa) victory as duly elected governor  in the March 9, Governorship Election in the state.

The governor was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Chiedu Ebie.

He said, “This is a reaffirmation of the events of the March 9th when over 900,000 Deltans voted for the reelection of administration.

“On the Sept. 20, the Tribunal ruled that I (Okowa) was validly elected and today, Nov. 15 is further reaffirmation of that  by the Appeal Court.

“We asked the opposition to join us in building a “Stronger Delta,” he added.