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Appeal Court reserves judgments in appeals over Delta, Imo governorship disputes

…Hears appeals by Ogboru, Ararrume, Nwosu, Uzodinma

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has reserved judgments in four appeals filed in respect of the last governorship elections held in Delta and Imo states.

The court announced, after taking arguments from lawyers to the parties, that the date(s) for judgments will be communicated to them.

The first to be heard on Monday afternoon was the one by candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Delta State,  Great Ogboru, in which he challenged the decision of the election tribunal, which upheld the victory of Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor of the state.

In the 37-ground appeal, Okowa, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as respondent, the appellants (Ogboru and APC) want the court to set aside the entire judgment of the  tribunal on the grounds that it (the tribunal) erred in law when it dismissed their petition and held that it lacked merit.

Nicholson Ichekor, who filed the appeal for Ogboru and APC argued that the lower court erred in law when it relied on the issue of over-voting instead of allocation of votes as canvassed in their petition to dismiss their petition.

The appellants in urging the court to nullify Okowa’s election claimed that in some polling units, the total number of votes cast at the election exceeded the total number of voters who were accredited to vote, adding that there was non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act in relation to accreditation of voters.

Represented by Damien Dodo (SAN) and Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN),  Okowa and PDP want the court to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that the appellants failed to prove their allegations of over-voting and noncompliance with the Electoral Act.

Okowa and the PDP claimed that they led cogent and reliable evidence, before the tribunal, to prove their victory in the election.

They argued that the appellants, on their part,  failed to prove how their claims of over-voting and that the results of the election was substantially affected by the alleged non-compliance.

The five-man panel that heard the Delta State appeal was led by Justice Uzo Ndukwe-Anyanwu.

The other set of appeals heard by the court were those filed by Ararume, Nwosu and Hope Uzodinma, against the decision of the tribunal, which upheld the victory of PDP’s Emeka Ihedioha in Imo State.

The five-man panel that heard the appeals was led by Justice Oyebisi Omoleye.

The appeals were filed by  All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and its candidate, Ifeanyi Ararume;  Action Alliance (AA) and its candidate, Uche Nwosu, and that of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its  candidate, Hope Uzodinma.

It is the appellant’s main contention is that Ihedioha did not obtain the constitutionally required one quarter of the votes cast in at least, two-thirds of the 27 local government areas of the state, as provided under Section 179 of the Constitution.

The appellants prayed the court yesterday, to set aside the decision of the tribunal and declare them winner of the election or in the alternative order a rerun election.

In his appeal, Ararume urged the appellate court to upturn the decision of the tribunal on the grounds that the lower court erred in law when it arrived at the decision that his case and that of his party lacked merit and accordingly dismissed it.

The 22-ground appeal was argued yesterday by his lawyer, Awa Kalu (SAN) while that of Nwosu and AA, was argued by Niyi Akintola (SAN). Damian Dodo (SAN) represented Uzodinma and the APC.

The appellants urged the panel to allow the appeals and grant all their reliefs.

Lawyers to Ihedioha and the PDP, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) and Ken Njemanze (SAN) urged the court to dismiss the appeals for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

The respondents attacked the appeal by Nwosu and his party and argued that it was a waste of the court’s time, since the Supreme Court, in a judgment delivered on October 22, 2019, struck out Nwosu’s name as the candidate of the AA in the election.

The respondents argued that Nwosu’s appeal lacked merit going by a recent judgment of the Court of Appeal, which nullified the candidacy of Nwosu in the election.

The court sat up to around a little to 8pm.

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