THE Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Asaba, will today deliver judgment on the petition by Olorogun O’tegha Emerhor, challenging the declaration of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as the winner of the 2015 governorship poll in the state, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Emerhor contested the election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, while Okowa ran on the plank of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
At the last sitting on October 13 where both parties adopted written addresses, Justice Nasir Gunmi, who heads the three-man tribunal, promised to communicate the judgment date, which must be before October 28, to the parties through the tribunal secretary.
In petitions number EPT/DT/GOV/32/2015 and EPT/DT/GOV/23/2015, Emerhor and APC approached the tribunal to nullify Okowa’s election on the ground of non-compliance with relevant sections of the Electoral Act.
Counsel to the 1st Respondent (Okowa), Alex Iziyon (SAN); 2nd Respondent (PDP), Timothy Kehinde (SAN); and 3rd 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.
The respondents’ counsel also urged the tribunal to strike out the petitions on grounds of lack of merit and incompetence.
The petitioners who anchored their respective cases on compulsory use of card readers for accreditation, argued that they had been able to prove the cases of over voting and electoral irregularities during the election to justify nullifying the election and ordering a re-run.
Counsel to Emerhor and the APC, Chief Thompson Okpoko (SAN) contended that Section 153 of the Electoral Act confers on INEC the power to make regulations for the conduct of elections based on which the INEC issued guidelines and press release informing Nigerians that card readers would be used.
Will the tribunal uphold Okowa’s election or nullify it and order a re-run as prayed for by Emerhor? The question will be answered today.