Delta 2023: Edevbie heads to S/Court, files 23 grounds of appeal

By Kelvin Ohoror, Delta

With the decision of David Edevbie to proceed to the Supreme Court with an appeal to challenge the Court of Appeal decision setting aside his victory at the High Court, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State has to wait for a final decision on who its authentic governorship candidate is, Alex Enumah examines the grounds of appeal.

Two weeks after the Court of Appeal set aside his victory at the Federal High Court in respect of his quest to seek the governorship ticket of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State, Mr. David Edevbie, has asked the Supreme Court to re-affirm his candidacy in the 2023 election.

Edevbie, in a 23-ground of appeal, faulted the unanimous decisions of the three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Peter Ige. He, consequently, asked the apex court to hold that he is the rightful candidate of the PDP in the governorship election slated for February next year.

The judgment of the Appeal Court had come under fire with many lawyers feeling that the panel did not do enough justice to the case.

They faulted Justice Ige for holding that it was not enough for Edevbie to say that Oborevwori’s certificates and other documents were forged, but he must prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was the defendant himself who forged the said certificates and other documents.

They argued that the case is not a criminal matter but a civil and electoral matter, which should have been treated as such.

They further faulted Justice Ige for holding that Oborevwori’s name had not yet been forwarded to INEC as PDP s candidate and that Edevbie ought to have waited for crystallisation of the process before going to court.

For these reasons, they urged Edevbie to proceed to the Supreme Court in order to enrich the country’s jurisprudence.

This, perhaps prompted him to file a 23-ground of appeal before the Supreme Court, faulting the decisions of the three-man panel of the Court of Appeal.

In ground 3 of the appeal, he claimed that the appellate court erred in law when it held that his suit “at the trial court was not cognisable as an originating summons action.”

According to his lawyer, Mr Ejembi Eko (SAN), Order 3, Rules 6 of the Federal High Court Rules 2019, mandated that a suit seeking the interpretation of any statute/instrument and the determination of any question based on same should be via originating summons.

The Appellant further submitted that the pre-election practice direction of the Federal High Court 2022 mandated that “all pre-election matters such as the instant suit as presented before the lower trial court should be by originating summons.”

Also, the former Commissioner for Finance submitted that contrary to the claim of the appellate court that the case of PDP and others versus Degi-Eremenyo and others of 2020 had been “superceded” by the Supreme Court and that same did not apply to the narrow facts of the instant case, the case is still extant and has not been overruled by the apex court.

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The appellant also disagreed with the ruling of the lower court that his case “had not crystalised and was premature” when it was filed.

He argued that as an aspirant, the law stipulated that any complaint he had relating and arising from participating in a party’s primary must be ventilated within 14 days, adding that the cause of action of his case accrued within the 14 days allowed by Section 285 (14) of the Constitution.

He further faulted the decision of the appellate court which held that there was no cause of action under Section 84 of the Electoral Act, claiming that the cause of action was that the 1st respondent did not possess the minimum requirements to participate in the election as stated by Section 177 of the Constitution.

On proving the allegations “beyond reasonable doubt”, Edevbie argued that “there is no principle of law that proof beyond reasonable doubt cannot be achieved by documentary evidence alone.”

He added that the standard proof of presentation of false/fake or forged documents in an election matter is distinct from the standard proof in a strict civil or criminal action.

He further claimed that the Court of Appeal erred when they concluded that failure to call evidence from the institutions that issued certificates and other impugned documents was fatal to the case because the 1st respondent never denied ownership of the documents and affidavits pleaded against him.

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