Delta: Ogboru loses at re-run tribunal…Heads for Appeal

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The Delta state re-run election petition tribunal sitting in Asaba, Delta state capital has dismissed the petition filed by Chief Great Ogboru of the Democratic Peoples party (DPP), challenging the declaration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Peoples Democratic  Party (PDP) as winner of the January 6, 2011 re-run governorship election in the state.  

  Justice Uzoamaka Doris Ogwurike, in her almost four hour judgement amid tight security, dismissed Ogboru's petition on the grounds that the evidences of proof by the respondents overrides that of the petitioners.  

  She ruled that: 'The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) substantially complied with the provisions of the 2006 Electoral Act and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended in the conduct of the January 6, 2011 re-run election.  

'The petitioners are not entitled to any of the reliefs being sought.  

  'The petioner did not score the highest number of lawful votes or the total of the lawful votes cast in the contended eight local governments of Delta state for their return at the election.  

  While ruling further, Justice Ogwurike asserted that all the witnesses and evidences presented by the petitioner were rebutted by documentary evidence and witnesses of the respondents and that 'Accordingly, this petition is thereby dismissed.'  

  Reacting to the judgement, younger brother of Chief Ogboru, Turner said that they will appeal the judgement at the Appeal Court.  

  'The petition has only been kept in suspense. The petition is alive and we will go to the Court of Appeal.  

  'In the judgement that has just been delivered, there is a misconception in the burden of proof to no voting instead of no election. That was where the judges got it wrong and when that is corrected at the Court of Appeal, like it was corrected on the November 9, 2011, they will lose again.'  

  Mr. Ken Mozia (SAN), Counsel to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan described the judgement as painstakingly prepared, adding that the legal team are prepared to meet Ogboru at the Appeal Court in Benin and the ongoing April 26, 2011 election petition tribunal in the state.  

  'The issue really is that they have to make up their mind on what they really want. You cannot be fighting several battles on the same front. What is in issue is office of the governor of Delta state. You cannot be pursuing in the Tribunal, Federal High Court and everywhere. You need to make up your mind which one you want to face and you face it diligently instead of dissipating too much energy.'  

  In his reaction, the state commissioner for information, Barr. Christopher Chike Ogeah lamented that the legal battle has caused a lot of distractions to the development agenda of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.  

  'Whether you like it or not, these distractions are all over the place and once this is going on, it departs from what we, in the executive are trying to do for the people of Delta state, who we believe deserve and must get the best form of government'.  

  Recall that the Delta state re-run election which was suggested by an Appeal Court in Benin has been bedevilled with litigations and caused great consternation among Deltans.  

  Meanwhile, Governor Uduaghan is still grappling with one of Ogboru's petitions at another election petition tribunal sitting in Asaba over the April 26, 2011 governorship election in Delta state.