By Uche Amunike
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has restored the sacked Delta State PDP governorship candidate, Sherriff Oborevwori as the rightfully nominated governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Recall that in July, the Delta state PDP governorship candidate, Oborevwori, was disqualified by an Abuja Federal High Court for allegedly tendering forged certificates and providing false information to INEC, to aid his participation in the PDP gubernatorial primary election, where he came out victorious.
Even though the lower court had instructed that the Delta state PDP governorship candidate’s name be replaced with that of the plaintiff, Mr David Edevbie, who took 2nd position during the primaries, a three-member panel of the Appeal Court, headed by Olabisi Ige, overturned the decision of the lower court, Monday, thereby, affirming Sherrif Oborevwori as PDP governorship candidate in Delta state.
When the PDP primary election was held in May, Oborevwori polled 590 votes to win Edevbie who polled 113 votes. Not pleased with the result of the polls, Edevbie filed a suit against Oborevwori and the PDP, noting discrepancies in Oborevwori’s certificates.
As a result of this, a judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Taiwo Taiwo, disqualified Oborevwori for submitting false information to the electoral umpire, just to back his nomination as candidate for PDP.
During the judgment on Monday, the appellate court stated that the High court was wrong in relying on the originating summons presented by the plaintiff. Accord to Olabisi Ige, the allegations raised against the Delta State PDP governorship candidate by Edevbie were ‘rooted and founded in criminality’, further adding that such claims ought to have been proven beyond reasonable doubt at the trial court.
The court also upheld that the lower court judge was wrong by granting all reliefs by the plaintiff without considering witness evidences like institutions that awarded certificates to Oborevwori.
The appellate court withheld that: ‘Facts were irreconcilably in conflict and could not have been resolved without oral evidence. There is no scintilla of evidence on record to prove that the appellant tendered forged certificate to the INEC’, the court ruled.
The court further held that Edevbie’s legal action was premature because INEC was yet to receive Oborevwori’s name from the PDP as at the time he filed the suit. Besides, while the lawsuit lasted, Edevbie could not prove how the PDP violated the Electoral Act, or even the 1999 constitution (amended) in the gubernatorial election that was held on May 25.
According to the Appellate court: ‘The decision of the lower court was perverse and it is accordingly set aside. The appellant’s appeal is hereby allowed.’
Sherriff Oborevwori, who is also the Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, is generally considered the preferred successor of the Vice Presidential candidate and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, while his closest rival, Edevbi who was favored by the judgement of the lower court is believed to have the backing of the former Delta state governor, James Ibori, under whom he served as Commissioner of Finance, when he was still on seat.