The Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba has given notice to deliver its ruling on Monday 26th October 2015. The tribunal had earlier on October 13th 2015 reserved judgment in the petitions challenging the declaration of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the April 11 election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Nasir Gunmi who reserved judgement following the adoption of written addresses by counsels to the respective parties in the disputed election, stated that the date of the judgement which must be before October 28 will be communicated to the parties by the secretary of the tribunal.
In petitions number EPT/DT/GOV/32/2015 and EPT/DT/GOV/23/2015 filed by Olorogun O’tega Emerhor and the All Progressive Congress (APC, the parties had approached the tribunal to nullify the election on the ground of non-compliance with relevant section of the electoral Act.
The counsels to first respondent (Okowa), Alex Iziyon (SAN); second respondent (PDP), Timothy Kehinde (SAN); and third respondent (INEC), Damian Dodo (SAN) urged the tribunal to dismiss the petitions with substantial cost against the petitioners, citing relevant sections of the law and previously decided cases to back their position.
The respondents’ counsel also adopted and relied on their written addresses, replies on the point of law as well as different sets of motions on notice bothering on preliminary objections in urging the tribunal to strike out the petitions which they insisted, lacked merit, lacked locus standi and incompetent.
However, the petitioners who anchored their respective cases on the compulsory use of card reader for accreditation argued that they have been able to prove the cases of over voting and electoral irregularities during the election and therefore urged the tribunal to nullify the election and order for a re-run.
Counsel to Emerhor and the APC, Chief Thompson Okpoko (SAN) while adopting and relying on his written addresses, contended that Section 153 of the Electoral Act confers on INEC the power to make regulations for the conduct of elections.
“In exercise of this power, INEC issued guidelines and issued press release informing Nigerians that card reader will be used. And Section 155 of the same Act states that any rule or guideline made by INEC remains valid if a court of competent jurisdiction did not set it aside. The card reader has a place in law, and I urge the tribunal to uphold the petition,” Okpoko argued.