July 10, 2022

2023: Battle for Delta deepens as Edevbie, Oborevwori head to Appeal Court

Chief Sheriff Oborevwori

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Festus Ahon and Ochuko Akuopha

FORMER Commissioner for Finance, Delta State and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship aspirant, Olorogun David Edevbie, has been grinning since Thursday.

He has every reason to, for, on May 25, he lost the PDP governorship primary to the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori. He never believed he would lose the primary.

Edevbie, known as the favorite of the former governor of the state and a national leader of the party, Chief James Ibori, had been disenchanted ever since.

Oborevwori, preferred by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, outflanked him in the primary.

Since the conclusion of the governorship primary in the state, Ibori and Okowa have still reconciled on the emergence of Oborevwori.

Though an angry Edevbie went to court, it was thought that Ibori and Okowa were sorting things out in preparation for take-off of the party’s 2023 campaigns when the court verdict exploded Thursday.

Joy enveloped Edevbie the moment a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja disqualified Oborevwori as the Delta state PDP governorship candidate on the grounds of inconsistencies of names in the documents submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Edevbie was more electrified when Justice Taiwo Taiwo held that Oborevwori was not qualified to contest for the office of governorship of Delta.

More heartwarming to him was that the court granted all his prayers, including “an order commanding, directing or otherwise mandating the second and third defendants to replace forthwith the name of the first defendant (Oborevwori) with that of the plaintiff (Edevbie), as the lawful candidate of the 2nd defendant (PDP) for the forthcoming governorship election in Delta State, now scheduled for March 11, 2023 by the third defendant”.

The issue of Oborevwori’s name, as contained in his certificates, has been a matter of controversy before and after the screening by the party’s governorship screening committee and appeal panel, both in Port-Harcourt and Abuja, which the Speaker scaled through.

 ‘Not a task for the lily-livered’

Evidently upbeat, Edevbie, in a statement, on Friday, said: “My good people, you may recall that at the beginning of my consultations, I said that the journey to transform Delta into a modernised state would be challenging.

“From the very start, I also envisaged that there would be setbacks and false starts, but regardless, I proceeded with my usual verve.

“To lead the transformation of a state as vast and diverse as Delta to its destiny, in terms of growth and development, requires a strong sense of purpose, faith, and the courage to keep leading even in moments of seeming disappointment.

“Clearly, it is not a task for the faint-hearted or pusillanimous. “Fortunately, the required qualities and abilities are what I was primed for from the outset of my working career, both in the private and public sectors in Nigeria and abroad and the allure of a new lease of life, growth and happiness in Delta State provided the impetus.

“Undeniably, most Deltans received the outcome of the PDP gubernatorial primary with bewilderment and exasperation. To many, it appeared to be a wanton disregard of the interests of our party and the mood of our nation.

“Propelled by the inevitable pall of gloom that hung over Delta State and faced with the real possibility that opposition parties would capitalize on the blindingly obvious situation, I was left with no alternative but to challenge the outcome in the law courts, albeit reluctantly.

“Today, I am pleased to announce that our faith was not misplaced. Nigeria’s justice system has spoken and rightly overturned the travesty in favour of the will of the majority of the people to restore our cherished values of hard work, integrity and honour.

“Let me be clear, this should not be seen as a personal victory but as a victory for our great party, PDP, which is firmly rooted in justice.

“It is also a victory for democracy and therefore, it is now time to put our differences aside and work together as a family to ensure our success at the next general elections.

“I especially commend and thank our Governor, His Excellency Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and the leadership and elders of our great party, the PDP, for their understanding and for effectively keeping the house together while managing the internal family contests.

“We must work together on the shared vision and goal of modernisation even as we embrace all those who either contested with us or supported other contestants. This is their victory too.

“Now that order has been restored, our PDP family is stronger and ready to defeat all opposition parties in Delta State in 2023. Consequently, I implore all our brothers and sisters, who became disillusioned and left PDP recently, to return to the fold. This is not the hill to die on”.


Oborevwori, who responded to the new-fangled spiral, Thursday, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Dennis Otu, had said: “I wish to appeal to all my supporters, political associates and well-wishers to remain calm and law abiding over the judgment of the Federal High Court. “There is no need to panic, all is well. We will certainly appeal the judgment and so let us maintain the peace as all hope is not lost. All is well and it will end in praise to the glory of God Almighty.

“The courts have always been part of our democratic experience, and our confidence in the judiciary which is the last hope of the common man is unwavering.

“So, as we embark on the appeal process, our supporters and indeed Deltans should kindly note and be rest assured that Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orhowedor Oborevwori remains the gubernatorial flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State for the 2023 general elections.

“The Sherrification Movement is well and alive and, by God’s grace, we shall overcome”.

By Friday, Sunday Vanguard learned that Oborevwori had appealed the ruling of the Federal High Court seeking a stay of execution of the verdict delivered on Thursday.

Oborevwori sought an order granting his appeal and setting aside the lower court’s judgment disqualifying him as the Delta PDP governorship candidate.

He raised nine grounds of appeal in his notice of appeal filed at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

The Speaker also filed an application for a stay of execution of the verdict.

PDP going to Court of Appeal —Osuoza

Meanwhile, the Publicity Secretary of PDP in the state, Dr. Ifeanyi Osuoza, in a statement, said: “Delta State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has received the judgment of an Abuja Federal High Court against our gubernatorial candidate for the 2023 general elections, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, on the grounds of discrepancies in his documents.

“We have already engaged our team of legal experts to critically study the ruling and explore grounds on which we can confidently approach the Court of Appeal.

“We want to, therefore, enjoin our teeming supporters and loyal party faithful to remain calm, unperturbed, and law-abiding, and assure them that we are quite confident in our conviction, that justice will be done and we will get judgment at the Appellate Court. There is no cause for alarm”.

Supreme Court may take final decision —Legal expert

A legal expert, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard on the matter, said: “The position of the law is that Oborewwori remains the candidate of the party once he appeals against the ruling of the Federal High Court, but until the Supreme Court gives its verdict because I know this matter will get to the apex court even after the Appeal Court delivers judgment, it is still not really clear who the actual winner will be.

“The party has an option of conducting a fresh primary going by the Electoral Act, but my concern is that the way the Act is worded is subject to different interpretations.

“If the party is bent on Oborevwori, it will not explore the option of a fresh primary.

“Contrary to the thinking of many, the PDP is not encumbered by the INEC timeframe on submission of the name of the governorship candidate because the party had already met this requirement.

“Even if the court matter is not decided before the March governorship election, INEC will go ahead and hold the governorship election in the state and whoever wins in the court later becomes the beneficiary after the election”.