Court sacks Uduaghan

THE Court of Appeal sitting in Benin Tuesday sacked Delta State Governor Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.

It ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct another election into the office within 90 days.

The court ruled in an appeal filed by Chief Great Ogboru, candidate of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) in the April 14, 2007 election.

The Justices held that Uduaghan, governor since May 29, 2007, was not rightly returned as the winner of the poll.

The Court of Appeal’s unanimous judgment was read by Justice Monica Bon Gban-Mensen.

The five-man judicial panel, which started sitting at about 3.30 pm, observed that the election was fraught with irregularities.

Justice Gbam-Mensen said: “After looking at the submissions of counsel to both parties and the submission by INEC counsel, it was obvious that the election was characterised with a lot of irregularities.

“There were a lot of election malpractices by the umpire in favour of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)
which placed undue advantage on him and his party at the detriment of other contestants in the election.”

The ruling came barely a month after the ouster of Mr. Segun Oni, the former occupant of the Ekiti State Government House, by the Court of Appeal, sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State.

The judgment, which surprised many, dragged for over three years, moving from the lower tribunal to the appeal tribunal and back to the lower tribunal before being returned to the Court of Appeal, which delivered the verdict Tuesday.

In court Tuesday were A. Adenipekun (SAN) for Uduaghan, Chief E.L Akpofore (SAN) for the PDP and Ken Mozia for INEC.

A terse statement last night by Mr. Sunny Ogufere, a media aide to Dr. Uduaghan, said: “Words have just come to us concerning the judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, which annulled the election of the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the details of the judgment are being awaited.

Meanwhile, Deltans are enjoined to remain calm and go about their normal duties.

The Speaker of the House of Assembly is expected to be sworn-in today (Wednesday) as acting governor, pending the rerun election.

The judgment was hailed last night by Ogboru’s brother Turner, who described it as “victory for democracy and rule of law”.

One of Ogboru’s counsel Nichols Ischekor said on the telephone last night that the ground of appeal was that the lower tribunal erred in law when it ruled that there was election in Delta in 2007.

He said while Ogboru was able to assert that elections never held in the state, INEC and Uduaghan failed to proof otherwise.

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