By Austin Ogwuda
ASABA â€” THE Gover norship election petitions tribunal sitting in Asaba, Delta State, yesterday, upheld the election of Dr
as the duly elected governor of Delta State when it dismissed the petition filed by Mr. Peter Okocha, the Action Congress Governorship Candidate for the 2007 polls in the state.
The retrial Election Petitions Tribunal dismissed the petition on the ground that Okocha was not validly nominated by his party to contest the election.
The tribunal however held that INEC had no power to exclude any candidate from contesting an election, provided such candidate was validly nominated by his party.
Okochaâ€™s petition was one of the petitions remitted from the Court of Appeal Benin to Asaba for retrial.
In its unanimous judgement, the tribunal made it clear that â€œthe fact that one has been nominated by his party does not constitute a valid nomination. It is clear that valid nomination by a political party goes beyond nomination of a candidate by a political party.
To be validly nominated, a candidate must show that he has complied with all the statutory provisions related to the nomination that qualifies him to become a valid candidate in the election. But has the candidate done so?
It is the contention of the respondent that the petitioner has not proved that he complied with the provision of sections 187 subsection 1 of the 1997 Constitution.
â€œA candidate for the office of the position of governorâ€, the tribunal went on, â€œshall be deemed to have been validly nominated for such office, unless he nominates another candidate as his associate for his running for the office of Governor who is to occupy the office of Deputy-Governor and that candidate shall be deemed to have been duly elected to office of Deputy Governor if the candidate who nominated him is duly elected as Governor in accordance with the said provisions.
â€œFrom the foregoing, it is without doubt that the respondents admitted in their reply that Charles Obule was duly nominated as Deputy Govenorship candidate as required by section 187 subsection 1 of 1999 constitution.
What is worth considering now is whether it has been proved that Charles Obule withdrew his candidature as Deputy Governor according to law now section 187 sub-section 1 & 2 of the Electoral Act. It is clear that the petitioners did not prove before this tribunal that they have complied with all these statutory requirements. Form EC 4(b6) Exhibit P2 was clearly not submitted to the first respondent 120 days or earlier before the election as required by law.
The first petitioner in desperate need to show compliance claimed in evidence-in-chief that exhibit P2 was submitted to the first respondent on 15th December 2006, a lie which clearly shows on the face of the exhibit.
â€œThere is also no evidence to show that Charles Obule or John Itoro either of whom was a joint candidate with the first petitioner submitted his Form CF001 as required by law 120 days to the date of the election or 60 days in case of a valid substitution. The consequences of our findings is that this petition fails and it is hereby dismissedâ€, it added.
I’ll appeal ruling â€”Okocha
Reacting to the judgement, Mr Okocha said he will appeal the case.
His words, â€œThe judgement is unacceptable and it is a jungle justice and judgement full of contradiction and I am sure the Appeal Court will do justice to the caseâ€.
However, it was jubilation galore in Asaba as the governor rushed down from Warri to join others in a thanksgiving service held at the Government House.
Governor Uduaghan, speaking through the Director of Communications, Mr. Paul Odili, stated that â€œthe governor is very happy and excited over the judgement and believes in the inpartiality of the judiciary and its independence to deliver its own judgement and that is the case in the present situationâ€.
Speaking further, he explained â€œThe judgement is a further affirmation that the election that brought Governor Uduaghan to power was a proper reflection and voice of the peopleâ€ adding that â€œthe Governor thanks the people of Delta state and he will continue to deliver, remain focused, determined and will concentrate on his 3-point agenda to secure harmonious and peaceful environment for the citizens of Delta Stateâ€.