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Joy laden with emotions, praises and prayers were part of actions that culminated in the ecstatic moment when Hon. Engr. Emeka Nwaobi, Member representing Aniocha North Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly, doled out millions to give scholarships to 24 indigent and less privileged undergraduates of Aniocha North origin, studying in various tertiary institutions across the country.

Nwaobi, alongside the Chairman of the occasion who doubles as the Delta North Senatorial PDP Chairman, Chief Moses Iduh, presented the cheques of N100,000.00 each to the beneficiaries at the Oligbo Royal Palace ground, Issele-Uku, venue of the presentation of cheques to beneficiaries of 2017 edition of Hon. Emeka Nwaobi’s Scholarship Scheme, which held on the 7th of October, 2017.

In an emotion stricken appearance, one out of the 24 beneficiaries who responded with thanks to Hon. Nwaobi’s gesture, Miss Bidokwu Juliet, said, “Hon. Emeka Nwaobi has lifted a major burden of school fees and purchase of books from our parents. The scholarship of N100,000.00 to us will go a long way in paying school fees and solving other major academic challenges like accommodation and text books. It beat my imagination when I heard I was selected without being a member of a political party or having anything to do with politics. We are grateful, and it is our prayer that God will replenish him and keep him victorious in all his endeavours”.

nwaobi2The Chairman of the Day, Hon. Iduh posited that he was not surprised at what Nwaobi could do as someone who is Godly and passionate about turning around the fortunes for the downtrodden.

Iduh clearly stated that Nwaobi has done more than enough, as he continued to hold sway  in the House of Assembly, adding that God can never make mistakes having divinely returned his mandate to him.

The Chairman affirmed that Nwaobi had performed based on the giant strides evidence on the ground and had been able to attract state government’s presence to Aniocha North to the extent that almost all the communities are developmentally touched.

Overwhelmed by the accolades and intermittent ovations for him, Nwaobi returned all glory to God, the giver of power and grace.

He said that the scholarships scheme for the indigent in the society was part of what he promised God that he will continue to do from inception as a Member of the Delta State House of Assembly, stating that in spite of economic recession and loads of pressures he would not deviate from that divine agreement he entered into with God.

The man popularly referred to as the ‘Oji Chukwu Bulu-Uzor’ said, that since he has been working in line with that divine agreement to use his monthly salaries in feeding indigent people in Aniocha North Constituency, God has also given him the grace to sustain his scholarship scheme for the less privileged undergraduates from Aniocha North, which he said is part of his empowerment Programmes.


Earlier, the Chairman of the Committee for the Actualization of Hon. Nwaobi’s Scholarships Scheme for 2017, Monsignor Buchi Aninye, represented by Prince Dr. Henry Emelue who is also a member, has commended the Honourable Member, while giving account of their unbiased work.

According to him, “It is exciting and heartwarming to know that 24 students of Aniocha North origin, studying in various tertiary institutions have been carefully selected and will today receive the sum of N100,000.00 each to assist them in the pursuit of their education. The beauty of it all is that no town in Aniocha North is left out. The recipients of this award should therefore justify this kind gesture by studying hard to excel in their various fields of studies”.

In another development, over 5000 politicians defected from APC and Accord to PDP. It was a moment of truth as the returnees, mostly youths and non-indigenes across the local government area, regretted their decisions for leaving PDP and pleaded for amnesty.

The defectors through their leaders, Mr. Chukwunweike Okeleke a.k.a Anwi for the youths and Mr. Oliver Akubueze for the Non Indigenes affirmed their resolve to work in harmony with the PDP leadership to forge ahead politically and support the Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and the Member of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Engr. Emeka Nwaobi beyond 2019.

They confirmed that after a passionate appeal to them by Hon. Nwaobi to come back to PDP with a view to supporting the re-election of the Governor in a landslide for second tenure and having seen the manner in which he was attracting development to Aniocha North, they had no other option but to take a step of faith and return back to the PDP their original home.


“We are pleased with Hon. Nwaobi and Governor Okowa for the monumental projects they are daily citing in Aniocha North. We were deceived into leaving PDP, but we have now learnt our lessons. In the same vein, we have abandoned Accord and APC and returned to the true and sincere party, PDP. On this note, we hereby endorse Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and Hon. Engr. Emeka Nwaobi for second terms in office”, the two defecting leaders chorused.

The occasion was massively attended by both party leaders and members across the local government area. Meanwhile, various groups from various communities of the LGA came with their dance groups to appreciate Hon. Nwaobi and Governor Okowa for the developmental presence of government in their areas. Of particular mention were the people of Ukwu-Nzu who came specially to show appreciation to the duo of Okowa and Nwaobi for turning the gory looking Ukwu-Nzu road to a city class reference point.

Reported by Chijioke Ugbolue





In a determined and well received move, geared towards sending a strong signal to detractors and naysayers of the party in the state, the All Progressives Congress, APC women leaders of the 23 local government Areas of Rivers State, as well as women members of the state party executive and other prominent women stakeholders of the party, led by the state women leader, Evangelist Caroline Nagbo and her Deputy, Princess Urie, had an interface with Chief Barr. Dumo Lulu Briggs on Thursday the 21 September 2017, to further consolidate the unity of the party in the State and pledge full support and loyalty to the leadership of the APC in Rivers State

The parley, convened solely by the women leaders, as part of their dedicated effort towards mobilizing women for the collective objective of building the party and strengthening the structures and resolve of members to be fully focused ahead of the 2019 electioneering season, equally served as an opportunity for them to highlight the core value of respect, which they described as a virtue that the women of APC hold sacred and which had prompted the interface with a well-respected personality like Chief (Barr.) Dumo Lulu Briggs, in order to promote a sense of unity and belonging and to share ideas on the need to strengthen the party through membership support and loyalty to the leadership in the state.

Addressing the women, after the preliminary official formalities had been dispensed with, Chief Barr. Dumo Lulu Briggs expressed his heartfelt appreciation to the women for deeming him worthy of the auspicious invitation to interface with them at such a high level gathering and pledged his unalloyed loyalty to the leadership of the party in the state, even as he applauded them for their dedication and commitment to embrace the challenging but achievable quest to strengthen and unite the APC in Rivers State.

He further commended their zeal, courage and faithfulness to the party over the years and while urging them not to hesitate to call on him whenever the need arises, assured them of his support to their positive efforts and activities in promoting party unity and harmony amongst member at all times.



“Let me start by thanking all of us for our commitment to the APC cause and for finding me worthy of your presence. I am one of you today because you have made appealing impacts as the frontrunners of the party. I am thankful because you kept on with the struggle and even when it looked like the road was very difficult, you kept the APC alive. And today, the APC has become the conscience of Rivers State and it is because of the foresightedness of all of you who are here,” Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs addressed them.

Speaking further, the distinguished legal luminary went down memory lane and extolled the virtues of women and their important role in society, even under very harsh and challenging circumstances and while recalling the brave and courageous initiatives the APC women have undertaken to ensure the continued sustenance of the party in the state, emphasized the need for them and indeed all party members to recognize and respect the leadership of the party always.

He said: “Growing up, life was rough but my mother was always there for me, so I know that I will not be a man today if not for the woman that God gave me as a mother. So, no matter what happens, I value women, I respect them because they remind me every day of the sufferings that my mother went through to raise me. There is enormous responsibility that the women carry, and if not for you, this party will not be anywhere. I thank all of you for holding firm, for agreeing that what we have in Rivers State is one God, one state, one party (The All Progressives Congress) and one leader, the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. Now, when you have all of that, it means that your victories are guaranteed,” he assured them.


Encouraging the APC Women and other party members to be firm and committed in their resolve to put the party first and ensure total victory for the APC in the 2019 elections, Chief Lulu-Briggs said, “I want to tell us that 2019 is a defining moment for all of us and nobody appreciates that better than the leader of the party. It means a lot more for him that we win the 2019 election, than it means to almost all of us who are also members of this party and who have all kinds of aspirations. It will be wrong of me or anybody to input wrong motives in his actions, because frankly, it will be more costly to him if we make any mistake in 2019 than it will be to all of us who are aspiring. Therefore, it is important that we give him the benefit of the doubt.

“The leader of the party Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi believes that we must build a Rivers State that will not be hostile to our children, a state that will love them and provide opportunities for them to realize their full potentials. It is important for him to ensure that the state begins to work for every man, woman and child. Today, Rivers State is struggling to find her feet while Lagos State has moved on,” he informed them.

Rounding up his brief remarks to the APC Women, the humble business mogul and loyal party chieftain told them that, “It has to be about you and not about the person contesting elections; it has to be about all of us. So we need to have people who are capable and are willing to expand the economy to accommodate all Rivers people. For whatever opportunity God gives to us, He expects us to use it to enrich the lives of the people. Nothing means more to us than the love that we show to one another, so we should pray to get people who will get into positions and remember that it was never about them, that it is just a position they hold in trust in order to explore resources in a manner that will make provisions for every Rivers man, woman and child,” he enjoined them.

“There are two important moments in the life of everybody; the day you were born and the day you realized why you were born. I have realized that I was born to serve; I was born to share my life with people.  I hope that in 2019, we will be able to bring back that Rivers State that cared for all of us. We have to begin to love again, the money we store in the banks for our children won’t give them happiness; what will give them joy is that they have a society that cares for them,” he concluded.


In her own remarks, the Rivers State APC women leader, Evangelist Caroline Nagbo, thanked Chief (Barr.) Dumo Lulu Briggs for honouring their invitation, as well as recognizing and also deeming it fit to interface with the women of APC in Rivers State, even as she lauded the humility and altruism displayed by the frontline politician and expressed deep gratitude to him for understanding the plight of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and appreciating the fact that he has made great sacrifices for the growth and development of Rivers State.

The woman leader who spoke deeply about the sufferings of Rt. Hon. Amaechi at the hands of detractors whose trade was to cast down rather than lift up, declared that the leader of the party believes in development and the raising of Rivers people, adding that Amaechi’s resolve to channel resources towards the cause of development, among other things, brought him so much persecution and sufferings,

She then recounted the sufferings that APC women had gone through simply because they stood by their convictions in 2015 and beyond and stated with all sense of pride that despite the obvious challenges and temptations, no APC woman jumped ship as they remained intact and solidly behind Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

Describing Rt. Hon. Amaechi as one with great vision for women, the APC Woman leader affirmed that the vision came to a manifestation through the invaluable support of Dame Judith Amaechi, wife of the former Rivers Governor and now the current minister of transportation and the leader of the All Progressive Congress, APC Rivers State Chapter.


Evangelist Caroline Nagbo said: “Dame Judith ensured that there was an adequate representation of women in all aspects of governance. Her husband granted those wishes and positioned women strategically. The women of APC are solidly behind Rotimi for being a good leader and for recognizing the sufferings of women. The leader himself has suffered so much persecution in the hands of detractors but he is God’s anointed; he shall always emerge victorious,” she posited confidently.

Extolling Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs for his humility and the respectful decision to follow the proper channels and the recognized due process defined by the rules and guidelines when he joined the APC, she said, “We are happy with you because your coming into APC didn’t bring sorrow and confusion. Your method of entrance; recognizing the grassroots, the ward executive and units officers, prove that indeed, you are a true politician. Your membership in APC has added value to the party. What is more exciting to us is that you are supportive of our leader, you are loyal and obedient to him, praying with him and committed to the objective of building and strengthening the party. We appreciate your good role sir. God will bless you for recognizing the pains that we have all gone through. We believe in the vision of Rotimi, and will follow him all the way,” she enthused.


Exhorting Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, the Rivers APC top Woman admonished that, “It is written that when a man humbles himself, God lifts him up. We are touched by your level of humility. Humility is the way of our leader, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. Our leader is a very compassionate man and your remarks about him today tells us that you are that proverbial child that sits at the feet of his father and learns wisdom. You are loyal, obedient and supportive, God will reward you equally,” she prayed for him.


Additional story and Photos from DLB Media


“Where official pronouncements are repeatedly made and not matched by action, government forfeits the confidence of the people and their trust.”

That was the elucidating statement of Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, in his  inaugural address, titled “The New Dawn”, as the President-Elect of Nigeria on May 29, 1999 in Abuja; a statement which  depicts the widespread apathy of the public towards government owing to the totalitarian gangsterish approach of the succeeding military Juntas in Nigeria, particularly  the despicable Abacha Regime that inhumanly dragged the country uncontrollably towards the precipice of a total collapse of all government machinery, before the divine intervention that halted the horrifying drift.

However, 13 years into the then new-found democracy in Nigeria, Obasanjo’s espousal of the need to restore public trust and confidence in governance of the country has become even more relevant with the unfortunate recurring policy somersault of government.

But what is government? Yes, it may sound elementary to seek a definition of the ubiquitous term. However such common words as government, democracy and representation, etc have been taken for granted so much that a greater population of the public do not know the positive or negative impact of the application of the terms in the life of the people.

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of the English Language defines ‘Government’ as “a particular system or method of controlling the activities or the manner of controlling a country; the group of people who are responsible for controlling a country or state.” The foregoing definitions imply, therefore, that government is a systematic approach by the people to rule or govern themselves; a systematic methodology to adequately harness the potentials of the earth by the people for their survival.

In the Greek world, it was possible for all the citizens of Greece to gather at the market place to formulate polices and to decide on how best to execute such decisions for their betterment. However, with the growth in population, it became increasingly necessary to adopt a more practicable and efficient system of formulating such policies since it was observed that less would be accomplished with all the citizens gathered for such an assignment. Hence, a few citizens were chosen to represent the entire citizens in the process of policy formulation and implementation in the country.

That was the beginning of representative government which is basically  democratic in that the representatives who could be upheld or removed must be elected on specified terms by the people to ensure the will and  welfare of the people. Therefore, government in its theoretical configuration is totally under the control of the people who have and exercise the ultimate power.

But how answerable are representatives of the people to the people, particularly in modern democracy? This question has been a serious subject of political debates across the world. However, George Orwell’s satiric novel, Animal Farm, says it all: “All Animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

Once elected, measures are hurriedly put in place by the representatives to hand-twist the people. Government machinery, such as the armed forces, the police and other Para-military forces which are supposed to protect life and property of the people are turned against the people by their representatives, thereby making the people to live a life of continuous  deprivation in a world of opulence  and wealth of their representatives.

Politicians in some climes exhibit cult- like approach in their relationship with the people. First, the organization of political parties has resulted in the elected representatives being primarily responsive and answerable only to the parties they belong, since  the parties decide through  primary  elections  who to be elected into  government,  while the people  merely queue  up in any election to give credibility  to the election of the already chosen representatives.

The case becomes even worst, talking about a ruling party which wields the power of incumbency detrimentally against all other parties, using government resources at  its disposal to hoodwink the people into   electing only its candidates. The anti-government activities of the Maoists in India, the Mau-Mau of East Africa and the Niger Delta militants  in Nigeria, to mention but a few, are  clear  manifestations of the people’s frustration at the inhuman  breach of the political contract between the people and their government.

Now look at appointments into government. In a bid to hush  some sections of the society, questionable characters who are known to be never-do-wells in their communities are most times appointed into government to hand  twist  their people in the political equation of the country.

Such personalities had never been known to have contributed anything meaningful  towards the development of their communities; instead, they flaunt their sudden wealth to the chagrin of their poor people. The only time such people show some remorse is when an election is approaching; that is when  they throw parties, cook good food and give some ill gotten  money and exotic wine to the unwary people to curry their favour in their choice of who they should vote for .

And such complimentary appointments are legion in government, resulting in bloated political work force  and being a  major drain in the government’s coffers. The recurrent expenditure of most  modern economies  far outweighs their capital expenditure owing to the inordinate quest  of the ruling parties in such  political climes to accommodate as many party loyalists  as possible in government. Hence, the  resources for the general development  of the society  are selfishly  shared  among a few, while  the generality  of the people are left with barely enough to manage a life of deprivation.

That explains why some governments adopt propagandist approach in their information dissemination  to the public. In a bid to mis-inform the public  into believing that government is responsive to the plight of the people, media practitioners  are lured  from the ethical foundation of the Journalism profession of adhering to  the truth at all times.

The sensibility of the people are daily a-washed with phantom projects of government . While some governments strive at all costs to maintain  a positive  image, they never tell the  public  of their failure:, it  is  always achievements, achievements  and achievements in the air!

But there is a limit to which people could be fooled. Such deceptive attitude  is far becoming a theatrical demonstration of the uncanny nature of mankind to impoverish the majority by the few; the people, therefore, most times no longer believe the pronouncements of their representatives in government. This is unfortunate since some governments, with genuine intentions to improve the lot of the people, are equally not trusted by the people.

A serving civil commissioner for information in one of the states in the Niger Delta  region of Nigeria once said that the  best publicity of government is when the implementation of government’s policies and programmes impact positively so much on the people that they wish the government to continue  to govern them;  and not  the other way round, when the people only hear that billions of Naira had been spent on some white elephant projects  that would not better the lots of the people, or worst still, when nothing is on  ground to show that  government exists at all.

It is against this backdrop, therefore, that government  at various levels need to as a matter of urgency, keep to its contract  with the people. While the executive arm  of the government should formulate  and execute people-oriented policies and programmes, the legislature should perform its oversight functions by cautioning  the former each  time it goes beyond its bound in its political  contract with the people; the judiciary should also be forthright in the interpretation of the laws of the country; it should  checkmate institutional corruption , and ensure the welfare of the people through upright dispensation of Justice. Of course, the media (the Forth Estate of the Realm) should shun the crumbs from the tables of those in government and adhere strictly to the ethics of the Journalism  profession by publishing  and airing the truth at all times.

Let’s conclude, therefore, by accepting the incisive statement of Mr. Bourke Cockran, an Irish–American, who believes that “There is enough for all .The earth is a  generous mother;   she will provide in plentiful abundance  for all her children  if they will but cultivate  her soil in justice and in peace.”

Johnson Ebigide, a Journalist, writes from Asaba, Delta State.


By Prince Charles Dickson

A Tarokh adage translates, a child lacks wisdom, and some say that what is important is that the child does not die; what kills more surely than lack of wisdom? (A foolish child is not much better than a dead child).

It’s almost becoming a ritual that I would write about Jos, almost twice a year and sadly not because of any good news, but for all the wrong reasons.

I am forced again to shed light on the recent killings in Jos, not because I want to, but because truth must be told and tomorrow, I want to stand out and say I did not keep mute. Writing or telling the Jos, Plateau story is a difficult one, emotions are high, sentiments cloudy but irrespective of all these the salient truth remains.

It is that truth that we run from that has continually hunted and will keep haunting us on the Plateau. I do not expect commendation from this short take, because truth has very few disciples, especially in this clime where the truth has taken leave of us.

In the last fortnight it started out with an attack on a Muslim sect that had gone to pray in a Christian dominated section of the city. They had been warned by locals in the area not too. Fact! They went…Fact! They were attacked and lives lost. Fact! A failure on the side of government and its security apparatus, and there are no excuses.

There is no justification for the loss of lives. As I write this, its 8 days and the State governor is still away in India, doing what, very few know, but at least many know that he did not hand over to his deputy before he left owing a to brewing rift between both men.

Thus, it took four days for the deputy governor to officially chair a security session, meanwhile, it was tough with a new GOC and STF commander, the state government was at loss on how to tackle the crisis.

There were retaliatory attacks. I lost a friend on his way from Zaria, he was a good Muslim, he was not from Jos, Plateau, and he was on transit. Killed by hoodlums who do not know Christ, we had worked together recently on a project in Zaria.

On the Bauchi road axis, I lost another friend, infact a soldier; he was on transit from Maidugiri, a good Christian, killed by some thugs just after supposed prayers on Friday.

In most Berom villages, it’s been a war against Fulani herdsmen, a conflict that has history dating back several decades with even some cases still in the law courts of cattle thefts and murder dating to the 70s.

Yet over the years it has taken religious colouration and in recent times, in these villages were killings take place, Igbos have been targeted with the killing only last month of a complete family in Barkin Ladi. Local bombs are now common thing and it’s only a question of which family next.

In the Jos city center, I am sure very many do not know there is a Britis-America junction route taken only by Christians and the Bauchi, Zololo, Angwar Rogo axis viewed as Palestinian and manned by Muslims..

Christians and Muslims in Jos, live apart and may never live together at the rate we are going, as in recent times even indigenous Muslims have been targeted by native hoodlums, and Yoruba Muslims targeted by settling hoodlums.

I have used the term, natives and settlers on intent because it is part of the Jos problem, who owns the land? Like the western media has dissected us to Muslim North and Christian South, in Jos, apart from being second only to Adamawa in terms of languages and ethnic groups have taken same road.

There are Beroms vs Hausas, Christians vs Muslims, Hausas vs others, natives vs Hausas, Beroms vs Fulanis, we vs them, Yoruba Muslims vs other Muslims, others vs Berom, this list is not exhaustive. I want to this week go and see my friend and big brother Dr. Aliyu Tilde in Fulden Bauchi but been warned it’s not safe, one could be caught in the vs

There is the theory that Jos is the heartland for an Islamization agenda by ‘them’. Well, it’s a theory of the naive versus the learned. In Jos, there is not only palpable tension but immerse hatred.

Whichever way it is viewed the land of Generals, is a complete study in failure of leadership, whether CAN, PFN, PDP, JNI, JIBWIS, Army, Police and all those vested with the power to do something.

It’s strange that Useni, a general that leads the Arewa, is in Jos, and one of the key problems has become “a hatred for the Arewas”. How can Gowon be praying for Nigeria and cannot pray for Jos, anyway many see him as the Zaria Prince, why would Domkat Bali, Shagaya, Temlong and the rest just sit and watch the desecration of Jos by hoodlums on both sides.

Reason is simply, all these elite are either not even talking, or like I was recently told by one of them…”It’s Jang, he does not listen”.

In this year alone there have three relocations, all by the Igbos, first it was the motor spare parts market that moved from Dilimi, the printing business left Buachi Road, and then lately the electronics market leaving Masclacchi Jumai axis

In Jos, it has gone beyond clashes, to killings and sheer criminality, the amount of arms in circulation is scary as localities resort to local vigilantes that have no modus operandi other than kill the perceived enemy. The city map is being re-drawn…

Three days into the killings, a staff of a courier company was on assignment to Abuja, he was travelling with his wife, the car broke down at Mararaba, and he asked his wife to go back hence they had barely started the journey.

She never got back to Jos…Her phone rang and it was picked by them…

A complete taxi from the Kaduna axis got missing with all passengers unaccounted for…killed by them.

Taxpayers’ money paid to security forces yet citizens have resorted to jungle warfare. Parents cannot allow their kids go to school as, on Sunday, pews were half empty as bomb scare texts are spread via mobile and social media.

Everyone watches the other person as Friday prayers are on-going.

Interestingly some 10 local governments apart from political turmoil and hardship are peaceful in Plateau, not even aware of happenings in the state capital.

All these killings will sadly continue because, there is hate, it’s there, it will continue because no one is ever punished. It will continue because no one cares, life has no value.

In case no one said it, I say it again; in some parts of the city, human beings are killed and ate. In some areas the Nigerian army cannot go there, in some areas there are no churches.

Christians cannot wear kaftan, and Muslims cannot jeans up and wear a T-Shirt.

Yet we all meet at the bank, use same MTN, Glo, Etisalat and co to make calls warning each other and spreading hate.

A solution…Just one for now, Jos does not need a commission; there has been 7 on the last count .It needs a truth and reconciliation commission. However the important questions will never be answered if the issues of employment and education are not tackled because we will always have idle hands, a devil and a workshop.

I make a very inciting sounding comment in ending this essay…for once, let all these bloodletting be targeted at leaders that have shown that they are not willing to lead and it may in itself be a solution too.

Revenge, retaliation, vengeance, to get even, reprisal, retribution, it’s a circle, someone needs to halt it. If not we will get to the point we may not know which will haunt us, the dead child or the fact its alive without wisdom.

Prince Charles Dickson


The Delta State Re-run Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Asaba, stunned Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and their teeming supporters, when it ruled that it will give judgement on the Petition filed by Chief Great Ogboru of the DPP, challenging the results of the April 14, 2007 governorship election in Delta State which gave victory to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.

A Federal High  Federal High Court sitting in Asaba had on July 20, 2011, literally set the cat amongst the pigeons when it voided the candidature of Chief Great Ove jde Ogboru as the governorship flag-bearer of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) in the April j14, 2007 elections in Delta State.

Delivering judgement on a suit brought before it by the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its chairman, Barr. Peter Nwaoboshi challenging the eligibility of Ogboru for the election, Justice Ibrahim M. Buba of the Federal High Court Asaba held that Ogboru did not comply with statutory requirements of the 2006 Electoral Act. Justice Ibrahim Buba had specifically declared that Chief Great Ogboru of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) was not a candidate in the January 6, 2011 Governorship re-run election, as the Court held that Ogboru did not meet the provisions of the 2006 Electoral Act which stipulates that 50 party members should endorse the governorship candidate.

According to the petitioners as filed in suit No FHC/ASB/CS/104/2011, Great Ogboru was not qualified to have participated in the April 14, 2007 Governorship Election as those who nominated him were not registered members of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) and this in view of the petitioners, was a breach of the provisions of the Electoral Act. The judge concured with their prayers and subsequently declared chief Ogboru ineligible for the election.

There was wild jubilation and great anxiety in equal measure on the parts of supporters of both the PDP and the DPP  across the state,  following this pronouncement by the Federal High Court in Asaba and it was against this backdrop of palpable tension and uncertainty that the Delta Re-run Tribunal convened om Monday, July 21, to adopt the final addresses of all the parties to the matter as earlier scheduled when the Court adjourned on Saturday, July 18, after the trial cases of all the parties had been presented and argued extensively and comprehensively within the time limit allotted to each of the parties.

The Tribunal hall was thus packed full with spectators, who were on tenterhooks with bated breath and the excitement reached fever pitch when the legal salvos commenced. All the parties were given 15 (fifteen) minutes each by the Tribunal to present their final addresses for adoption.

As to be expected, the Respondents wasted no time in invoking the judgement of the Federal High Court in Asaba which had declared that Chief Great Ogboru was not validly nominated as the governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), for the April 14, 2007 Delta State governorship election and asked the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the Court pronouncement and dismiss the Petition of Chief Great Ogboru from the Tribunal.

Parading a coterie of distinguished legal luminaries and Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN’s), the Respondents represented by Wole Olanipekun, SAN and Kern Mozia Esquire (for first respondent Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan), Adebayo Adenepekun, SAN (for the second respondent PDP) and the erudite Dr. Austin Ikpeazu, SAN (for the third respondent INEC), argued extensively that in view of the recent pronouncement by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Asaba Federal High Court Chief Great Ogboru was not validly nominated as the DPP governorship candidate, the Tribunal should dismiss the petition forthwith as it lacked competence and credibility before the Court.

During their separate adoption of submission before the tribunal, INEC’s counsel, Dr. Austin Ikpeazu (SAN), drew the attention of the tribunal to the Wednesday July 20, judgment of the Asaba Federal High Court which invalidated the nomination of the petitioner. “My lord it is not as if election did not take place but voting didn’t take place in some areas. Already a Federal High court had on Wednesday declared that the petitioner, Ogboru was not duly nominated as such ought not to have participated in the re-run election”. Citing several authorities including the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and other relevant documents, Ikpeazu argued that the pronouncement of the Federal High Court was binding on the Tribunal and he then urged the tribunal to dismiss in its entirety the petition of Ogboru having failed to prove his case beyond any reasonable doubt.

On his part, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), counsel to the Ist respondent, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, also drew the attention of the tribunal to the Wednesday judgment and submitted that Ogboru’s petition has no locus standi since the Federal High court has nullified his nomination. According to him, “With reference to section 74 of the Evidence Act your Lordships are enjoined to enforce the Federal High Court judgment because the petition would have died a natural death”

However, the legal arguments was to take a new and exciting turn when lead counsel to the petitioner,  Mogbeyi Sagay, SAN, promptly objected to all the submissions by the Respondents and urged the tribunal to allow the petition. Responding, in his counter argument, Sagay posited thus: “My lords, the judgments that have been presented here are not before your lordships as issues for the trial as agreed by all the parties, because they were neither pleaded as applications nor were they adopted by this Court as affidavits in the records of the Courts proceedings at any time during the course of this trial. As such the tribunal cannot rely on them as they cannot form any basis on the judgment that the tribunal shall give.”

Arguing further Mogbeyi Sagay, SAN, emphasized that: “My lords that Federal High court is just a realm judgment because that is not the final judgment. There is already an Appeal for stay of execution and there are several injunctions pending against that (Federal High Court) judgment and as such, it cannot be considered as the final judgment.”

According to Sagay, the Delta state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Gabiel Ogbudu Ada who is a star witness in the case showed up in court but “ran away” and thus did not testify. Also, all the electoral materials tendered in court were unlabelled and could not match with any of the units. Said he, “INEC could not prove that election was conducted and why did Justice Buba wait till now before delivering that judgment even apart from the fact that the Federal High court has no jurisdiction to entertain the case,?” he queried.

Sagay then told the Court that the burden of proof on whether the Petitioner was not validly nominated by his party to contest the April 2007 election was still on the respondents and had not shifted from them to the petitioner, since they were the ones making the allegation. The onus was on them to provide evidence to back up their arguments. The petitioner (Chief Ogboru) has affirmed on oath that he was validly nominated for the election and anybody who claims otherwise should bring proof to support their arguments.

He then concluded by asking the Court to declare his client (Chief Great Ogboru) the winner of the January 6, 2011 Delta State re-run election on the grounds that he has been able to prove that elections did not hold in the 8 (eight) local government areas they were contesting because INEC did not produce the ballot papers and result sheets for the eight local government areas in contention and even the ones the electoral body tendered before the tribunal were not stamped and numbered serially, amongst other reasons.

After listening to both parties, the tribunal led by its chairman, Justice Doris Uzoamaka Ogwurike and ably supported by Justices Ogbonna Okereke and Bello Duwale promptly fixed judgment for Monday, July, 25th, 2011. The sitting was jam packed with top aides of Governor Uduaghan’s administration including his Chief of Staff, cabinet members, former Aides and supporters as well as supporters of Chief Great Ogboru and members of the DPP.

Reacting to the initial Asaba Federal High Court pronouncement by justice Ibrahim Buba, the Chairman of the Delta State Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) Chief Tony Ezeagwu described the effort of the PDP as an exercise in futility and thanked God for the decision of the Tribunal to go ahead and fix a date for Judgement proper. According to Ezeagwu, “We thank God for the decision of the tribunal to fix a date for judgement in this matter. The PDP must have realized that it was losing out and so they went and got that kangaroo Judgement, when they knew that it was not in their case originally. It was an exercise in futility and we thank God that their plan has been exposed.”

Speaking further, the Delta DPP Chieftain said that, ‘The Tribunal has been fantastic. We have never seen a Tribunal like this in Delta State. Other Tribunals before now would have simply shut us out and used the excuse of the Federal High Court pronouncement to terminate our case, but we are happy today that Justice is not only being done but also seen to be done.”

Continuing, Ezeagwu said, “Our people had been greatly worried and there was panic amongst some of our supporters when they heard the Federal High Court Judgement. People were calling from all over to clarify the matter but we were able to douse the tension and assure them that all was well. Our people feel happy and uplifted now that the Tribunal has fixed Judgement for Monday July 25, 2011. “Chief Great Ogboru was validly, completely and unanimously nominated by our party the DPP as our flag-bearer for the April 14, 2007 governorship election in Delta State. What the PDP has done is an effort in futility. We have already appealed the judgement like our Lawyer said in Court today and we are happy with the way things have developed”.

In his own reaction to the judgment, Turner Ogboru, a DPP Chieftain and brother to Chief Great Ogboru said that he was not bothered by what the Asaba Federal High Court had done. Said he, “The judgement is perverse and ridiculous. We have  traveled a similar road in the past and the judgment is not a big issue. Both Chief Great Ogboru and Emmanuel Uduaghan met the stipulated guidelines and requirements for the elections in question and they were both duly cleared by INEC to contest the election.

“Chief Great Ogboru was duly nominated by 50 registered members of the DPP and the nomination form EC4-B6 as provided by INEC was duly submitted. For them to now turn around and say that he was not duly nominated after he had been cleared by INEC to contest the election is simply ridiculous.”

Recall that the Court of Appeal, Benin City, Edo State had in November, 2010, nullified the April 2007 governorship election in Delta State, which Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan had won, and ordered a re-run election in the state within 90 days of the ruling. Governor Uduaghan had then won the re-run election held on January 6, 2011 and had narrowly missed a tenure elongation bonus following the signing of the 2010 Electoral Act (Amended) by President Goodluck Jonathan on January 10, 2011, the same day Uduaghan was sworn-in again as  governor of Delta State.

Chief Great Obgoru had then petitioned the Elections Tribunal to challenge the results of the elections from 8 (eight) Local Government Areas in Delta State and prayed the Court to nullify the results from the said Local government areas on the grounds that they were not a true reflection of the election and declare him winner from the results of the remaining Local government areas.

The decision of the Justice Doris Uzoamaka Ogwurike led Tribunal to fix judgement on the matter, after all parties had presented their cases and final addresses and despite a last minute attempt by one of the the Respondents (PDP) to dismiss the Petitioner’s case through an Asaba Federal High Court Pronouncement invalidating Great Ogboru’s candidature for the April 14, 2007 governorship election in Delta State, (amid speculations that some huge financial gratification had allegedly been provided to lubricate the process in order to achieve a particularly favourable pronouncement from the Asaba Federal High Court, which has been seen in some quarters as allegedly amenable to the desires of certain interests) has finally set the stage for the next big installment in this long running election petition battle for the soul of Delta State, which commenced in 2007.

Deltans and Delta Watchers will wait for July 25, 2011 with bated breath and not a little anxiety and excitement across the state as the D.Day approaches.

DELTA RE-RUN TRIBUNAL: Uduaghan, PDP Closes Re-run Trial Case, as Sagay Rattles Forensic Experts, Witnesses

First and Second Respondents in the Delta State Re-run election Tribunal, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), closed their trial cases on Tuesday July 12, 2011 and Thursday July 14, 2011 respectively but not without the usual exciting legal twists and turns which had hallmarked the tribunal proceedings since it commenced sitting on July 5, 2011.

Meanwhile, the Justice Ayo Abisoye Delta State Elections Tribunal has dismissed the application filed by Governor Uduaghan to strike out the petition filed by Chief Great Ogboru, challenging the April 26, 2011, governorship elections in Delta State.

In a similar matter, Chief Pius Ewherido (DPP) enjoyed victory over Chief Ighoyota Amori (PDP) over the April 9, 2011 Delta Central Senatorial Elections, which Ewheridi won. Also, the tribunal gave ruling in favour of Peter Onwusanya (PDP) over Nwanze Oduah (DPP) in the Oshimili South House of Assembly elections of April 26, 2011.

Spectators and re-run tribunal watchers were taken by surprise when they arrived at the Court to witness the commencement of the trial case of the First Respondent (Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan) in the January 6, 2011 re-run elections and were greeted with the presence of a new lead Counsel, Chief Alex Iziyon (SAN) in full charge, replacing the renowned Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who had held sway during the trial case of the petitioner (Chief Great Ogboru), ably marshalled by his counsel Mogbeyi Sagay (SAN).

The Second Respondent (PDP) also brought in a seasoned legal luminary, Adebayo Adenepehun (SAN), who was drafted in to replace the recently appointed Delta State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Charles Ajuyah (SAN) for its trial case and with all the protagonists, including the Members of the tribunal led by Hon. Justice Doris Uzoamaka Ogwurike as Chairman and both Hon. Justice Louis Ogbonna Okereke and Hon. Justice Bello Duwale as members, well primed to do confront the legalese before them, the stage was nicely set for what has turned out to be an exciting exchange of legal arguments, strategy and sometimes provocation, which had even had the spectators spontaneously releasing their emotions as the twists galore unfolded.

Recall that the Petitioner (Chief Great Ogboru) had in his petition, prayed the Court to declare him winner of the January 6, 2011 Delta State re-run elections on the grounds that the results declared from 8 (eight) Local Government Areas of the state at that election, was not a true reflection of the elections conducted and as such elections did not hold in those areas.

The petitioner further prayed that the results from the remaining local government areas should be used to determine him the winner of the election, having satisfied the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), as amended and the Electoral Act (2010), as amended.

And so, as to be expected, counsel for the First Respondent, (Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan), Chief Alex Iziyon (SAN) had hinged his strategy on the procedural plank of trying to establish that elections actually held and were conducted in the contentious Local Government Areas.

This was the pattern established during the cross examination of his 13 (thirteen) witnesses by counsel to the Second Respondent (PDP) Adebayo Adenepekun (SAN), who, in the two days allotted for his trial case, painstakingly led the witnesses through the various stages of an election process, from joining the cue for accreditation, through the voting proper, the collation of results and the announcement of same at each polling unit. He then ended by asking them if the elections, from their observations was free and fair, to which they all replied: ‘Yes, my Lord’.

However, on cross examination by the counsel to the petitioner, Mogbeyi Sagay (SAN), a different scenario began to unfold before the spectators. It was obvious from the onset, that the strategy of the petitioner was to challenge the authenticity of the witnesses both in their personal records and in the evidence/statements they had deposed before the court.

In the course of the cross examination therefore, a particular witness when asked if the Action Congress Party Nigeria (ACN) was on the ballot and took part in the January 6, 2011 Delta State re-run election, answered yes, and said that he saw the name of the ACN on the ballot and the result sheets were duly signed by its agents.  Another witnesses told the court that he had lost his voters card immediately after the elections and so could not produce it in court. And yet another witness had two different dates of birth on his party card and voters card.

Some of the witnesses who claimed to be party agents did not have their letters of appointment and acceptance as agents, relying instead on their tags as modes of identification, one particularly witness could not spell the name of the primary school were she claimed to have voted and another witness had a hot exchange with the petitioner’s counsel whom he alleged was trying to confuse him with his cross examination, even as another witness claimed that he completed his accreditation and voting within 45 (forty five) minutes. The petitioner grilled all the witnesses with the same cross examination strategy.

The First Respondent also called two Expert witnesses, Prof. Patrick Igbigbii, a Dematoglyphics (fingerprints study and analysis) expert and Provost of the College of Medicine, DELSU  and also, Mr. Egbuna Vincent, a Commissioner of Police, Forensic Department, Force Headquarters, Alagbon, Lagos, respectively on the second day.

Prior to the commencement of cross examination of the Expert witnesses, the Petitioner’s Counsel Mogbeyi Sagay (SAN) had challenged the presentation of the Experts on the grounds that their names and reports had not been frontloaded to the tribunal as required by law, but rather they had only been mentioned with their names withheld. He also argued that their names had not also been included in the applications for additional witnesses in the pre-trial pleadings and had not been reflected in the order of July 5th, 2011, setting the guidelines for the trial, adding that there was no order for the Subpoena of the witnesses before the Court.

He further argued that the Expert witnesses were not invited to tender any report or give evidence on the inspection carried out on the election materials, but to assassinate the character of other forensic Experts, a statement which counsel to the first Respondent found quite provocative and challenged immediately, prompting the tribunal judge to caution counsel to mind their language, to which they all concurred.

Sagay then argued that Court orders are specific and should be given both literary and ordinary meanings and since their names were not on the Court order of 5th July, 2011, and they were not in court to present any report inspection findings, they should be excluded as witnesses before the tribunal, because the Respondents can only call witnesses on its list, no more, no less.

In response, both Iziyon (SAN) for first respondent and Adenepekun (SAN) for second respondent, argued that the petitioner’s objection was premature, because he had not said anything to indicate what his evidence contained. They also contended that a the details and evidence of a witness on subpoena need not be frontloaded.

Iziyon (SAN) in particular contended that the petitioner’s objection not only lacked legal foundation, but was grossly misconceived, citing that the Court had expressly granted the prayers of the respondents in the several applications filed before and during pre-trial to present two Fingerprints and one Information Technology (IT) Experts as witnesses and the petitioner had not appealed at that time.

He further argued that Subpoena does not require putting the opposing counsel on notice, because it is an order of the court and should be treated as such. He called the objection an “invidious attack on the court” and concluded by saying that “ He (petitioner) cannot do our case for us”

In her ruling, Justice Uzoamaka Ogwurike overruled the objection of the petitioner on the grounds that the first respondent had listed the additional witnesses it intends to call, though not by name, during pre-trial and the tribunal cannot close its eyes to the fact that it had made an order for the trial, so the objection is overruled and the witness can give evidence.

One of the Expert witnesses Mr. Egbuna Vincent, a Commissioner of Police, Forensic Department, Force Headquarters, Alagbon, Lagos even in the told the tribunal that Petitioner’s Witness (PW) 18 Ahmed Ibrahim, an Assistant Suprintendent of Police, ASP, who had testified before the tribunal between July 4 and 5, and whose report on forensic examination of the ballot papers used for the January 6 re-run had already been adopted by the Court, was no longer in the service of the Police Force, adding that Ahmed was never at anytime instructed to carry out any forensic inspection  by the Department.

On cross examination however, Mr. Egbuna admitted that he had not taken part in the inspection of election materials for the January 6, Delta State re-run elections and so had no report to present. When asked of his Identity Card as a Police Officer and head of department, he told the Court that he had no I.D Card  (with him in the Court). He also said that he did not bring his certificates to confirm his qualifications as a forensic expert and did not have any letter, as the head of the forensic department, Alagbon to indicate that Ahmed Ibrahim,  had been relieved of his position with the Nigerian Police.

Another expert witness Prof. Igbigbii also faced a rigorous cross examination. Responding to questions on cross examination by the Second Respondent (PDP), Adebayo Adenepekun (SAN), Prof. Igbigbii told the Tribunal that a forensic analysis of the ballot papers used by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the January 6 governorship re-run in the state showed that 55 per cent of the ballot papers had blurred fingerprints, 25 per cent of the ballot papers had partial fingerprints while only 20% had legible prints.

Prof. Igbigbii who was subpoenaed by the tribunal, said most of the ballot papers had finger marks and not fingerprints, and that it would be extremely impossible to use those prints to ascertain the authenticity of the votes, adding that INEC did not meet the standard condition to make meaningful deduction for fingerprints under the environment in which the January 6 re-run election was conducted, among which were visibility of prints, complete fingerprints.

On cross examination by the petitioner, Mogbeyi Sagay (SAN), Prof. Igbigbii told the Court that he had been the Chairman of the Board of the Oghara Teaching Hospital while he was provost of the school and when asked who had appointed him, he told the Court “Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan”. When asked further if he knew that the same Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who is the Visitor of his institution and equally his employer was also the same person as the first respondent in the case, Prof Igbigbii said yes, he knew.

Another expert witness, Mr. O Saturday, who described himself as a forensic statistician and data analyst, told the court on cross examination by Mogbeyi Sagay (SAN), that he knew all the personnel who participated in the inspection process, but when directed to look at and asked if he had ever met or knew a certain Mr. Uloko, who was the head of the DPP legal team during the three days of the inspection of election materials as ordered by the Court and who was actually sitting down next to the petitioner’s counsel directly in front of the witness box, Mr. Saturday said that he had never seen and did not know Mr. Uloko, adding that he did not know the names of the other members of the inspection team from the other parties but could only identify them physically.

When asked further to disclose the number of ballot papers he had inspected, and the serial numbers on the ballot papers, Mr. Saturday said he did not know the number of ballot papers he counted or the serial numbers, but that he had accounted all the ballot papers.

Governor Uduaghan, also tendered the final result (EC8E), as well as the voter’s register, of the re-run conducted by INEC to show that the commission organized an election and computed results consequent upon which he was declared winner

For the records, the defence witnesses who testified for both the First and Second Respondents over the four days include: Ama Agbajoh, PDP chairman in Warri South council;  Mr. Lucky Ibori, party agent, Ethiope West; Gospel Golley, voter, Ethiope West; Mr. Helen Idjerhe, voter, Ethiope West; Ebitemi John, voter, and Sylvester Okoroware, party agent, Bomadi.

Others include; Mercy French, and Pension Awani, from Warri South; Ugoti  Bawo, Warri South-West; Stephen Adeleke, Patani; and Douglas Eneke from Burutu Local Government Area. They all maintained that the governorship re-run election took place in their areas and results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. All of them also testified that elections in their various units and wards were free and fair.

The Third Respondent INEC, opens its own two days trial case on Friday July 15, 2011.

*Ewherido Defeats Amori,  *Onwusanya Gets Judgement over Oduah

In a related development Senator Pius Ewherido (DPP) has been given the final nod to enjoy his victory as Senator representing Delta Central in the April 9, 2011 general elections, when the elections tribunal sitting in Asaba dismissed the case of Chief Ighoyota Amori (PDP) on the grounds that his application for pre-trail hearing was done in a written letter instead of a proper motion. The Court therefore dismissed Amori’s petition on grounds of improper procedure in the application for pre-trial hearing.

The tribunal also gave ruling in favour of Peter Onwusanya (PDP) over Nwanze Oduah (DPP) in the Oshimili South House of Assembly elections of April 26, 2011.

The tribunal had also earlier dismissed the petition of one Solomon Awhinawhi, challenging the victory of Chief Ogbaburhon in the April 2011 House of Representatives elections for Udu Federal Constituency.

DELTA ELECTION TRIBUNAL UPDATE: Uduaghan Suffers Another Dismissal, as Tribunal Upholds Ogboru’s Petition over April 26, Election

The petition filed by the Governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, challenging the result of the April 26, 2011 Delta State governorship, which was won by Emmanuel Uduaghan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has been adopted by the Delta State Elections Petitions Tribunal for hearing.

This development emerged in the wake of the dismissal of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s application on motion which prayed the Tribunal to declare Ogboru’s petition as irrelevant and abandoned on the grounds that the petitioner had allegedly failed to file a reply to the respondent’s reply to his petition within the stipulated period of five days.

Delivering its ruling under tight security the Hon. Justice Ayo Abisoye led three man tribunal averred that the petitioner (Ogboru) filed its reply to the respondent reply within the stipulated period of five days.

She added that the petitioner has not abandoned its petition having satisfied the statutory five days, noting that the amended 2010 Electoral Act as well as the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules were ambiguous in what should be parameter in computing days.

She also added that there was lacuna in the 2010 amended Electoral Act as regards the time for filing tribunal petitions as against the 2006 electoral act which stipulates that the 30 days for the filing of an election petition commences from the day the election result was declared by INEC.

Ruling further Justice Abisoye said that, there is no clear cut parameter to compute time in the electoral act, and citing several references from the Supreme Court and in accordance with the relevant sections of the Electoral Act and Federal High Court Civil procedure Rules, she noted that computing of time of filing election petitions no longer commenced from the day the election result was declared but starts from the next day.

She therefore averred that the petitioner’s reply dated June 22, 2011 to that of the respondent’s which was filed June 16 2011 was in order.

In her words; “The petitioner was served with the respondent’s reply on June 16, 2011 which has June 22, 2011 as the last five days excluding Saturday and Sunday which are 18th and 19th  which was within the time limit stipulated in paragraph 16 (1) to the first schedule of the electoral act.

“It showed that the computing of time starts a day after the declaration of result. Petitioner reply to that of the respondent happened on 4. 10 p.m on June 16 which continue to run till 4.10 p.m, June 22, 2011. Having filed its reply on June 22, it was deemed that the petitioner filed at 4. 10 p.m”.

She however noted that the petitioner’s reply which was filed on June 22 was duly filed and served on respondent on June 23, but dismissed the respondent’s  motion for lack of merit.

It will be recalled that lead Counsel to the Respondent (Governor Uduaghan), Wole Olanipekun (SAN) has urged the tribunal to declare the petition of the petitioner as being abandoned on the ground that it failed to file a reply to its petition within the alleged five day period as stipulated by the relevant statutes.

Nicholas Ichekor (ESQ) counsel to Ogboru had then prayed in his response that the tribunal dismiss the respondent’s application as the reply to its petition was filed within the stipulated period of five days with the exclusion of weekends.

The judgment which took over two hours to be delivered had been arrived at after the members of the tribunal had recessed for over two hours to study the application and prepare its ruling.

With this ruling, pre-trial hearing on the matter has now been fixed to commence on Wednesday July 27, 2011.

Reacting to the ruling, Delta State DPP Chairman Chief Tony Ezeagwu gave Glory to God for the way the matter was resolved, noting that this was the first time in the history of tribunals in Delta State when judges have displayed a clear intention to dispense justice without any colorations.

Speaking further Chief Ezeagwu said “I want to thank the President of the Court of Appeal Justice Salami for appointing tried and tested judges to handle these tribunals and indeed President Goodluck for giving the Judiciary a free hand to do its work. Before now, tribunals were noted to have to have entertained motions upon motions from respondents all in a bid to waste the time of petitioners and the Court. But these tribunal members are purposeful, decisive and have given us hope that we will get a free and fair hearing

“We are jubilating over the ruling today because our case would have been cut short and terminated if the judgement had gone against us. We would have been dejected, disappointed and disillusioned if the ruling had not favoured us. What this ruling means is that our case can now go on and you can see that the people are very happy.  We are happy because we have always said that our mission is not for our selfish interests but to liberate Delta State. We have told the PDP to meet us on the field because elections is about the choice and votes of the people and not about running away with ballot boxes and declaring yourself the winner of an election you did not win”.

Ezeagwu expressed confidence that justice will be done this time by the Grace of God, beacuse the tribunal has restored the confidence of the people in the judicial system so far and urged their supporters to stay calm and pary that God will vindicate the DPP in Delta in the long run.

In his own reaction to the ruling, Turner Ogboru, another DPP Chieftain and brother to the petitioner Chief Great Ogboru simply said: “This is the day that the Lord has made.”

This is the second Uduaghan application to be dismissed by an election petitions tribunal in the space of two weeks. It will be recalled that the the Delta state Re-run Election Tribunal, under the Chairmanship of Hon. Justice Uzoamaka Ogwurike, which is also sitting simultaneously with the April 26, Elections Petitions Tribunal, but at a different venue in Asaba, had on July 5, 2011, also dismissed an application filed by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to stop the petition of Chief Great Ogboru challenging the results of the January 6, 2011 Delta State Governorship re-run election.

Uduaghan’s application had prayed the Court to strike out Chief Ogboru’s petition on the grounds that it was irrelevant, lacked competence and had been overtaken by time, but Justice Uzoamaka Ogwurike had dismissed the application on the grounds (amongst others) that the 180days stipulated by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended had not elapsed and so the petition was still competent, relevant and the tribunal had jurisdiction to entertain it.

Recall further that the Chairman of the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal for the April 26 governorship election, Hon. Justice Ayo Abisoye had, during its opening session, handed down a strict warning to litigants not to attempt to influence or compromise the tribunal by any means, as “justice is not for sale”.

She had also pledged that; “We shall accord fair hearing to all litigants and dispense justice without fear or favour. We, the members of the tribunal shall discharge our judicial duties in observance of the oath office we have sworn to under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”

According to her, the tribunal would give all petitions accelerated hearing and she also advised counsels to the petitioners and respondents to eschew unnecessary application for adjournment and warned journalists to avoid sensational reporting of proceeding at the tribunal.