On Friday, November 24, 2023, the Lagos Division of Court of Appeal dismissed the petition filed by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the judgment of the Delta State Election Petitions Tribunal which upheld the victory of Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori as Governor of Delta State. The appellate court dismissed the petition for lack of merit.
The petitions of the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Kenneth Gbagi, and that of the Labour Party (LP), Ken Pela suffered similar fate as that of Omo-Agege. The Court of Appeal threw out their petitions and declared Oborevwori as winner of the March 18 governorship poll in Delta state.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Governor Oborevwori winner of the election on March 20 prompting the petitioners to approach the election Tribunal to seek redress. But they lost in their bid as Sheriff, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the day.
The Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba, had earlier on September 29, confirmed the election of Oborevwori as the duly elected governor of the state. In its judgment, the three-member tribunal, led by Justice C. H. Ahuchaogu, dismissed the petition filed by the APC candidate for lack of merit.
As it turned out, expectations from the Omo-Agege camp that the Appeal Court otherwise was forlorn. And for majority of Deltans who came out to vote on March 18, it was an outcome they had expected as they knew the appellants stood no chance. How could anyone have expected a different outcome after Governor Oborevwori roundly defeated his opponents at the polls?
After all, the results from the governorship election in Delta state remain unassailable. So how could anyone be thinking of an upset or that the Court of Appeal would give victory to Omo-Agege as his supporters were expecting?
Results declared by INEC showed that Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori scored 360,234 votes, Omo-Agege scored 240,229 votes and Ken Pela trailed with a distant 48,047 votes. Chief Great Ogboru of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) came fourth with 11,021 votes, while Gbagi, who is one of the petitioners, scored a paltry 56 votes.
It is significant to note that Oborevwori won 21 out of the 25 local governments in the state. Omo-Agege won only four local governments, all from his Delta South Senatorial zone. Sheriff won Oshimili North, Oshimili South, Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika North East, Ika South, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West, Ukwuani, Ethiope West, Ethiope East and Sapele. Others are Okpe, Warri South, Warri North, Warri South West, Bomadi, Patani, Burutu, Isoko South and Isoko North. Omo Agege, on the other hand, won Ughelli North, Ughelli South, Udu and Uvwie local government areas.
As senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District before the governorship election it would mean that Omo-Agege could only garner votes from four out of the eight local government areas in his zone. Other than that abysmal record, he was trounced by Oborevwori in the two other Senatorial Districts of Delta North and Delta South.
It is also significant to note that the election in Ughelli North, which is Omo-Agege’s local government, was characterized by alleged electoral malpractices, including vote buying, ballot stuffing and outright falsification of figures. The most disturbing irregularities in the Delta governorship polls were recorded at Evwreni community, where thugs went on rampage, attacked and wounded INEC officials, destroyed over three BVAS machines and set electoral materials on fire, among other heinous crimes.
With this record failure at the March 18 electrons, how could any of the appellants have been hopeful of causing an upset at the election Tribunal and Court of Appeal? Shouldn’t they have hidden the counsel of political and community leaders who told them save their resources for more meaningful ventures, especially considering that the combined votes secured by them is considerably less than Governor Oborevwori’s overwhelming vote return? The only rationale for their actions, perhaps, is the fact they are experts of delusion and perilous grandeur. This applies more to Omo-Agege who was banking on the apparatus of the Federal Government to thwart the people’s will.
Even their pre-election campaigns and plans was no different from the current hatchet plot to snatch victory through the back door. No one considered them serious as a result and it was no surprise they were rightly rejected by the people of Delta. Perhaps an analysis of their strategies would help to elucidate our points more succinctly.
Omo-Agege approached the election standing on one pillar. He was most visible in Delta Central Senatorial District, hoping that his kinsmen would “collaborate” and help to “generate” the numbers to win majority votes. He had no visible pointsmen or viable political structure in the two other Senatorial Districts.
Besides, the APC candidate was hoping that the pre-election suits initiated against Sheriff on unsubstantiated case of perjury, forgery and falsification of results would succeed and thus make him heir apparent to the throne, a plan which eventually collapsed like a pack of cards as the courts, including the Federal High Court, Appeal Court and the Supreme Court, all ruled in favour of Sheriff Oborevwori.
For Ken Pela, the performance of Peter Obi and his Labour Party in the presidential election had elicited a false sense hope in his camp. He clearly stood no chance before the elections. Deltans only got to know of him after Peter Obi, his party’s candidate, was announced by INEC as winning majority votes in February 25 presidential poll in Delta. The LP governorship candidate suddenly found his gusto and hoped against hope that he would emerge victorious through a bandwagon. But Deltans were not willing to place their votes in the hands of a gambler.
Gbagi is on record to have spent a better time of the campaigns trying to redeem his image, following allegations levelled against him from the past. Is it therefore any wonder that he ended up with a meagre 56 votes.
On the other hand, Oborevwori had a robust campaign machinery and personally visited all the 270 wards in the 25 local government areas in the state during which he received their petitions.
Understandably, the three petitioners have indicated readiness to go to the final arbiter, which is the Supreme Court. It is the way of majority of Nigerian politicians who believe that our Justices are magicians and if offered the right lucre, would raise the dead from the grave. While it is within their rights to seek redress, Deltans marvel with scorn, that these daydreamers are unable to see beyond their nose.
Truth is that the people voted overwhelming for Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori as Governor of Delta State on March 18 hence people saw no reason for the petition. He remains their choice beyond 2027 when another round of elections would take place. Delta also remains a PDP enclave. Any attempt to upset the apple cart would fail. This is a matter for which the people are in agreement within the foreseeable future.
*Ofou is Executive Assistant on New Media to Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori.