Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the 2023 Delta State Governorship Election, has reacted to the Governorship Election Tribunal verdict which dismissed his petition against Governor sheriff Oborevwori of Delta state.
In a statement he personally signed, Senator Omo-Agege, a former deputy Senate President, expressed his belief that the Tribunal, in its judgement, failed to adequately consider the implications of the new provisions in the Electoral Act of 2022, particularly sections 137 and 73(2), and paragraph 46(4) of the First Schedule.
He argued that these sections mandated the Tribunal to properly evaluate the evidence presented by his team and corroborated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“Let it be said with every sense of conviction and responsibility that in reaching its judgment, the Tribunal in Asaba, in our respectful view, failed to avert its mind to the intendment of the plethora of unambiguous innovations now contained in the Electoral Act, 2022. In relation to the instant petition, these are most particularly evident in sections 137 and 73(2) and paragraph 46(4) [First Schedule) of the Act mandating the Tribunal on how to properly handle the required evidence duly placed before it by the petitioners in proof of the petition and corroborated by INEC itself”.
Omo-Agege emphasized his disagreement with the Tribunal’s acceptance of votes he alleged were gained in breach of the Electoral Act and the Constitution.
He also expressed doubt about the Tribunal’s compliance with the new Act, which he said mandates the rejection of an election if the serial numbers and identities of electoral materials used are not properly recorded on INEC-prescribed forms.
“We hold the reasoned view that if the Tribunal dutifully attended to the unassailable evidence in support of ALL the polling unit results and every other relevant electoral document duly tendered before it using our present electoral jurisprudence and benchmarks already set by the Supreme Court as its compass, today’s outcome would have been clearly in our favour.
“As chief proponents of a clean electoral system, we disagree that ballots obtained in manifest breach of the Electoral Act and our Constitution are lawful and valid votes in the 2023 Delta State Governorship Election. Further, we also do not believe that the law permits the Tribunal to do nothing having found as a matter of fact and consistent with the petition that votes were arbitrarily inflated in favour of our opponents.
“Also, we do not believe that today’s judgment is in consonance with the letters and spirit of the new Act which, for the first time in our electoral history and jurisprudence, now unequivocally mandates a Tribunal to reject and cancel an election conducted at a polling unit if the serial numbers and other identities of the electoral materials used are not formally recorded into the INEC prescribed forms. We know that where this particular infraction is manifest on documentary evidence before the tribunal, the Act clearly says such must be thoroughly considered by a Tribunal and the result cancelled, as same is unlawful. This, regrettably, is not the case with the instant decision.
Despite his disappointment with the judgement, the Senator thanked the Tribunal for their work in what he described as a “toxic and intimidating environment.”
“So, let us be clear. For the matters mentioned herein and much more, we say with calm confidence and conviction that today’s judgment is nothing but a grave injustice that will not stand appellate scrutiny. But we must thank their Lordships for all they did as humans given the very toxic and intimidating environment in which they operated in the last six months. We wish them well”.
He further announced that he has instructed his legal team to appeal the judgement immediately, expressing his gratitude for their “steady industry and extraordinary commitment.”
He urged his supporters to remain calm and law-abiding, assuring them that despite the setbacks, their journey to “rescue” Delta State continues.
“We entered this race knowing that it would not be a smooth sail,” he said, adding “So, keep hope alive. With God, we shall get to our destination under His abiding grace.”