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Delta guber tribunal: We’ve successfully proved our petition – Gbagi

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Kenneth Gbagi, governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Delta State in the March 18 election, has expressed satisfaction that he has successfully proven his petition at Delta State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Asaba, waiting for the defence to open on the 19th and 20th of this month.

In the petition brought before the tribunal, Gbagi, through his counsel, Magaji Mato Ibrahim (SAN), is seeking the disqualification of Sherrif Oborevwori of the Peoples Democrstic Party (PDP) as the governor of Delta State, on the ground that the process that brought him to power was marred with irregularities and not in accordance with the Electoral Law.

The petitioner who came fifth in the election with less than 5,000 votes, is also accusing candidates of other political parties that participated in the March 18 election of having criminal tendencies, especially Ovie Omo-Agege, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former deputy speaker of the Nigerian Senate and therefore, claims they were ineligible to contest the election.

Gbagi, a criminologist, industrialist and former minister of state for education, is praying the tribunal to declare him the winner of the election.

Addressing newsmen in Asaba recently,, Ibrahim who had tendered a documentary evidence before the three-member tribunal led by C.H. Ahuchaogu, a justice, commended Gbagi who was the star witness in the matter.

“You people were in court and saw the demonstration that was done by the witness (Gbagi). Our witness has impressed everybody; even the judges were impressed at what he (our witness) has done. We are satisfied. By the grace of God, we have successfully proved our petition.

“You know, in the course of preparation of the processes, we have made affirment that some of them, especially Omo-Agege has exhibited criminal tendencies in so many ways including the stealing of the mace at the National Assembly, and we have equally accused him of being a member of a secret society.

“So, the video we tendered is to show all those instances of the membership and then the instance of stealing of the mace at the upper chamber of the NASS. It was a public show and issue, thus we have tendered the video before the tribunal.

At the tribunal:

Gbagi through his counsel, tendered a total of 4,978 forms of EC8 series before the tribubal, in his attempt to prove that the conduct of the March 18, 2023 election did not substantially comply with the relevant laws.

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Ibrahim tendered the documents which were provisionally admitted in evidence, at the resumed hearing of his petition during last Saturday.

The three-member tribunal admitted the documents and marked them as exhibits despite opposition from the respective counsels to the 1st to 13th respondents who reserved their grounds of objection to final written addresses.

The forms include 4,634 forms of EC8A across 20 out of the 25 councils; 322 forms of EC8B in the same number of councils; 20 forms of EC8C; and one form each of EC8D and EC8E.

Other documents which were also admitted include two BVAS reports with accompanying receipts and certificates of compliance as well as one flash drive accompanied by the certificate of compliance.

Gbagi while testifying before the tribunal claimed that he won the election and alleged that the scores announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were mere allocation of votes.

He argued that Governor Oborevwori did not score majority of lawful votes cast to have be so declared and returned as winner by INEC.

Under cross examination which lasted over 90 minutes, Gbagi, a lawyer by profession, averred that he left the PDP months earlier before the May 25, 2022 governorship primaries of the ruling party in the state.

On the issue of eligibility, he said he was not aware that most of allegations of forgery he raised against the respondents had been resolved by the Supreme Court.

After his testimony, the tribunal adjourned to July 19 for the respondents to open their case.

INEC is the first respondent, candidates of the PDP, APC, Labour Party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), are the 2nd to 13th respondents in the petition.

Counsels to INEC and PDP react:

Meanwhile, Jaro Egboh, counsel to the PDP while responding to newsmen, said they would be ready to open defence on the next adjourned date but expressed belief that “there is no case to answer as the victory of Oborevwori was ordained and certified.

Also, Francis Okoye, counsel to INEC, told newsmen that “the law is sacroscant that if you are going to establish your petition, it will be by calling witnesses polling unit by polling unit and not by documentary evidence.” They should demonstrate their case by calling witness, he said