There was palpable disquiet in All Progressives Congress (APC) as the election petitions tribunal, sitting in Asaba, Delta State, Thursday, August 24, 2023 reserved judgment in the petition filed by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege challenging the victory of Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, Governor of Delta State in the gubernatorial election of March 18, 2023.
Reports indicated that members of APC, including supporters of Omo-Agege left the tribunal premises very sad, discussing in hushed tones that their candidate may lose again to Oborevwori, having also lost in the polls conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Thursday’s session saw counsel representing the petitioners and the respondents, namely INEC, Oborevwori and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) adopting their already submitted closing addresses to the tribunal, after which the court adjourned to an undisclosed date to deliver judgment.
Dr. Alex Izinyon, SAN, Robert Emukperuo, SAN and Murtala Abdulrasheed, SAN led the team for the Petitioners, while Professor J. E. O Abugu, SAN led the team for the 1st Respondent (INEC).
Mr. D. D. Dodo, SAN and Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN on the other hand, led the team for the 2nd Respondent (Oborevwori) while E. Ohwovoriole, SAN, Ayo Asala, SAN and O. M. Atoyebi, SAN led the team for the 3rd Respondent (PDP).
The despondence among APC and Omo-Agege’s supporters could not be far fetched as some of them expressed dismay that their counsel failed to prove convincingly that their candidate won the governorship election of March 18, neither did they succeed in showing that Oborevwori was ineligible to contest for the office.
Counsel to the Petitioners drew the Tribunal’s attention to pending applications, namely:
1. Petitioners’ Motion on Notice for leave to exceed the 40-page limit by filing an addendum to the petitioners’ final written address; and
2. 2nd Respondent’s Motion on Notice challenging the competence of the Petitioners’ Final Written Address.
The Tribunal, after listening to counsel, directed that the pending applications be taken before adoption of Final Written Addresses, after which the petitioners moved their Motion on Notice for leave to exceed the 40-page limit by filing an addendum to the Petitioners’ Final Written Address filed on 18th August, 2023.
Counsel to the 2nd and 3rd Respondents thereafter adopted their respective Counter-Affidavits and Written Addresses in Support filed on 23rd August, 2023.
Subsequently, the Motion on Notice challenging the competence of the Petitioners’ Final Written Address filed on 22nd August, 2023 was moved, thereby enabling the Petitioners to adopt their Counter-Affidavit and Written Address in opposition filed on 23rd August, 2023.
Rulings on the respective Motions on Notice were reserved to Final Judgment.
Thereafter, the 1st Respondent adopted his Final Written Address dated and filed 11th August, 2023.
Counsel to the 2nd Respondent thereafter adopted the following processes:
1. 2nd Respondent’s Final Written Address filed 11th August, 2023; and
2. 2nd Respondent’s Reply on Point of Law filed 23rd August, 2023 in urging the Tribunal to dismiss the Petition.
Counsel to the 3rd Respondent also adopted the following processes:
1. 3rd Respondent’s Final Written Address filed on 11th August, 2023; and
2. 3rd Respondent’s Reply on Points of Law filed 23rd August, 2023.
Counsel to the Petitioners thereafter adopted the following processes:
1. Petitioners’ Final Written Address and Reply to the Respondents’ Final Written Addresses filed on 18th August, 2023; and
2. Addendum to the Petitioners’ Final Written Address filed 18th August, 2023.
Dr. Alex Izinyon, SAN, in a closing remark, thanked the tribunal for accommodating all parties and creating a conducive atmosphere for parties to ventilate their grievances. D. D. Dodo, SAN also lent his voice in thanking the Tribunal for its patience and accommodation.
The Tribunal in turn appreciated Counsel to the respective parties for their cooperation and professionalism and admonished junior Counsel to take a cue from learned senior counsel with the Tribunal thereafter reserving judgement to a date to be communicated to parties.