Thursday, 17 December 2015

Appeal Court to rule on APC’s appeal against Okowa’s victory

The Benin Division of the Court of Appeal has reserved judgment in the appeal by the All Progressive Congress seeking to upturn the verdict of the tribunal which upheld the declaration of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa as the winner of the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Delta State.

The Justice Uwani Abba-Aji led five-man appellate court panel reserved judgment on Thursday following adoption of final written addresses by the parties.
The APC and its candidate in the election, Olorogun Emerhor, are urging the appellate court to sack Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party and order the rerun of the governorship election in Delta State.
An election petition tribunal sitting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, had on October 26, 2015 upheld the declaration of Okowa as the Delta State Governor by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
But the APC and Emerhor have rejected the tribunal’s verdict.
In the 11-ground notice of appeal, their lawyer, Chief Thomson Okpoko (SAN), argued that the tribunal judges erred in law when they failed to nullify the result of the April 11 election despite evidence of “substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act, INEC guidelines and over voting in 61 per cent of the polling units in the state.”
The appellants claimed that INEC officials shunned the use of card readers as stipulated by the commission and resorted to manual accreditation of voters.
Okpoko argued that the tribunal erred in law when it chose to ignore the copious evidence of irregularities before it and went ahead to uphold Okowa’s victory.
The senior counsel also urged the court to dismiss the cross-appeal filed by the respondents for lacking in merit.
However, Okowa, through his counsel, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), urged the appellate court to dismiss Emerhor’s appeal for lacking in merit.
Counsel for the PDP, Timothy Kehinde (SAN), and counsel for INEC, Damian Dodo (SAN), also prayed the Court of Appeal to refuse the prayers sought by the appellants.
After entertaining all the parties, the appellate court reserved ruling till a date to be communicated to the parties.
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