Delta 2023: Sheriff, Edevbie knows fate October 21st

By Gabriel Elozino, Asaba

The legal battle between Olorogun David Edevbie and the Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Sherrif Oborevwori over who flies the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) governorship flag come 2023 general elections may finally come to an end on the 21st of October, 2022.

This is as the apex Court has reserved its judgement for October 21 on an appeal seeking a nullification of the nomination of Sherrif Oborevwori, as the governorship candidate of the PDP in the state.

The appeal which was filed by Olorogun David Edevbie, an aggrieved governorship aspirant of the PDP in the state, alleged that Oborevwori submitted false and forged documents to the party, in aid of qualification to contest the election billed for March 11, 2023.

According to a Vanguard report, a five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Amina Augie, okayed the matter for judgement after all the parties adopted their final briefs of arguments.

While adopting his brief of argument, the Appellant, Edevbie, through his lawyer, Mr Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, told the apex court that whereas Oborevwori had in an affidavit he deposed to, claimed that he was born in 1963, he, however, tendered a West African Examination Council, WAEC, a certificate that was issued to someone that was born in 1979.

“My lords, the 1st Respondent has not denied this allegation. All the documents he produced and tendered did not match his name at birth”, Oyetibo, SAN, submitted.

Besides, he argued that the case provided a unique opportunity for the Supreme Court to make a pronouncement on “the new legal regime introduced by section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, 2022”.

According to the Appellant, the section provided that any aspirant that participated in the primary of a political party and has reasonable ground to believe that any information given by his political party’s candidate, in relation to the constitutional requirement for qualification for the election was false, could approach the court to challenge the eligibility of a such candidate.

“My lords, the new electoral law has introduced a zero-tolerance policy for submission of false documents by any aspirant.

Our position is that the 1st Respondent, haven supplied false information and submitted dubious certificates, he is legally precluded from participating in the election.

“My lords will find conclusively from the evidence before this court, that he submitted false documents, in relation to section 177 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended”, Oyetibo, SAN, added.

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Meanwhile, on his part, Oborevwori, through his lawyer, Mr Damian Dodo, SAN, urged the apex court to dismiss the appeal for want of merit.

He argued that the extant provision of the law is that the sort of allegations the Appellant levelled against him, must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Dodo, SAN, argued that there was no relief before the trial court for the said documents his client submitted to the PDP to be declared as false or forged.

He, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the appeal and reinstate the judgement of the Court of Appeal that recognised his client as the authentic candidate of the PDP for the governorship contest.

Similarly, PDP, through its lawyer, Mr. A. L. Aliyu, SAN, also sought the dismissal of the appeal.

PDP argued that sections 177 and 182 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, made exhaustive provisions regarding the issue of qualification of candidates for an election.

“Submission of a forged document to a political party is not a constitutional ground for disqualification.

“The ground for disqualification is the submission of a false document to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

“The Appellant did not tarry or wait for the party to submit the name of the 1st Respondent, for his action to crystalize. His suit was premature”, PDP argued.

Though the INEC was cited as a Respondent in the matter, it was however not represented by any lawyer at the proceedings.

It will be recalled that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had in its judgement on August 29, restored Oborevwori as the governorship candidate of the PDP in the state.

The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-man panel of Justices led by Justice Olabisi Ige, vacated the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which earlier directed INEC to recognise Edevbie as the bonafide candidate of the PDP for the election.

It held that the high court wrongly relied on Originating Summons Edevbie brought before it to disqualify Oborevwori on the premise that he tendered forged certificates to the PDP.

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