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Tribunal Judgment Unexpected, Says Omo-Agege, Asks His Lawyers to Appeal

The three-man panel held that the petitioner failed to prove the allegations of non-compliance with the Electoral Act and corrupt practices.

Ovie Omo-Agege

A former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, said the judgment of the Delta State governorship tribunal, which dismissed his petition against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was unexpected.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Sheriff Oborevwori, the PDP candidate, as the winner of the Delta State governorship election held on March 18.

Oborevwori polled 360,234 votes to defeat Omo-Agege, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who secured 240,229 votes.
Omo-Agege and his party filed a petition before the tribunal to challenge the election outcome. But the petition was dismissed on Friday. The three-man panel held that the petitioner failed to prove the allegations of non-compliance with the Electoral Act and corrupt practices beyond reasonable doubt.
In a statement at the weekend, Omo-Agege said the judgment was “flawed”, saying he had directed his lawyers to appeal the verdict.

“The outcome is not what we expected. Let it be said with every sense of conviction and responsibility that in reaching its judgment, the tribunal in Asaba, in our respectful view, failed to avert its mind to the intendment of the plethora of unambiguous innovations now contained in the Electoral Act, 2022,” Omo-Agege said in a statement.
“In relation to the instant petition, these are the most particularly evident in sections 137 and 73(2) and paragraph 46(4) (First Schedule) of the Act mandating the tribunal on how to properly handle the required evidence duly placed before it by the petitioners in proof of the petition and corroborated by INEC itself.
“We hold the reasoned view that if the tribunal dutifully attended to the unassailable evidence in support of all the polling unit results and every other relevant electoral document duly tendered before it using our present electoral jurisprudence and benchmarks already set by the Supreme Court as its compass, today’s outcome would have been clearly in our favour.

“As chief proponents of a clean electoral system, we disagree that ballots obtained in manifest breach of the Electoral Act and our Constitution are lawful and valid votes in the 2023 Delta State governorship election. Further, we also do not believe that the law permits the tribunal to do nothing having found as a matter of fact and consistent with the petition that votes were arbitrarily inflated in favour of our opponents.
“Also, we do not believe that today’s judgment is in consonance with the letters and spirit of the new Act which, for the first time in our electoral history and jurisprudence, now unequivocally mandates a tribunal to reject and cancel an election conducted at a polling unit if the serial numbers and other identities of the electoral materials used are not formally recorded into the INEC prescribed forms. We know that where this particular infraction is manifest on documentary evidence before the tribunal, the Act clearly says such must be thoroughly considered by a tribunal and the result cancelled, as same is unlawful. This, regrettably, is not the case with the instant decision.”
 “I call on our people to remain calm and law-abiding. We came into this race to rescue our beloved Delta State knowing that it would not be a smooth sail. So, keep hope alive. With God, we shall get to our destination under His abiding grace,” Omo-Agege said.

Sylvester Idowu in Warri