Court of Appeal Orders Resumption of Delta State Governorship Election Petition Hearing

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has issued a directive for the Delta State governorship Election Petitions Tribunal to resume proceedings concerning the suit filed by Kennedy Pela, the candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the state’s gubernatorial election.

In the initial election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Sheriff Oborevwori, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the winner, securing 360,234 votes. He defeated Ovie Omo-Agege of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who garnered 240,229 votes. Kennedy Pela, the LP candidate, secured the third position with 48,027 votes, while Great Ogboru of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) came fourth with 11,021 votes.

Pela and the LP subsequently filed a petition challenging the election results. They raised concerns about the qualifications of the first and second-placed candidates, alleged corrupt practices, and non-compliance with the Electoral Act. They sought either a declaration of Pela as the winner or the annulment of the election with a fresh one conducted.

During the pre-hearing phase, Damian Dodo, the lead counsel for the governor and his deputy, argued that the LP’s petition had been abandoned, citing a failure to utilize the seven-day window for a pre-hearing notice. Dodo also claimed that the petitioner did not apply for another pre-hearing notice, rendering the petition premature and incompetent, thus calling for its dismissal.

Chairperson C.H Ahuchaogu, presiding over the tribunal, subsequently dismissed Pela’s petition.

Unsatisfied with this decision, the petitioners proceeded to the Court of Appeal. In his petition EPT/DL/GOV/01/23, Kennedy Pela challenges the outcome of the 2023 Delta State governorship election and seeks permission from the tribunal to nullify Sheriff Oborevwori’s declaration as the Delta State governor.

In its judgment on the appeal, the Court of Appeal granted the appellants’ prayers and ordered the reinstatement of the petition before the tribunal for a hearing on its merits.

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