SUPREME Court yesterday upheld the election victory of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State after dismissing the appeals filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its standard bearer in the election, Osagie Ize-Iyamu for lacking in merit. In a unanimous judgment, a seven- man panel of justices of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, held that both interlocutory and main appeal Ize-Iyamu lodged before it lacked merit. The court has however fixed July 21 to give reasons for its judgment. The Benin division of the Court of Appeal had earlier affirmed the election of the governor after dismissing the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of PDP, in the September 28, 2016 governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. The five man appeal panel led by Justice M.B Dongban-Mensem, in a unanimous decision, described Ize- Iyamu’s appeal as unmeritorious.
The appellate court agreed with the Edo State Election Petition Tribunal led by Justice Ahmed Badamasi which returned Obaseki as governor of Edo State, saying that Ize-Iyamu and the PDP failed to prove before the trial court why Obaseki’s victory should be upturned. Other members of the panel are Justices S. Tom Yakub, M.O. Bolaji-Yusuf, U.A. Ogakwu and Mohammed Mustapha. Nigerian Pilot recalls that the Edo State Election Petition Tribunal had on April 14, 2017 upheld the election of Obaseki as governor of the state after dismissing PDP’s petition for lack of evidence. Ize-Iyamu, who was not satisfied with the judgement, alongside other appellants ran to the appellate court raising 41 grounds of appeal and nine issues for determination, praying the court to determine whether the trial tribunal was correct in its approach in considering and dismissing their case considering the defence of the respondents. They prayed the court to allow the appeal, upturn the judgement of the
tribunal and grant the main reliefs sought pursuant to Section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act. However, counsel to Ize-Iyamu led by Yusuf Ali (SAN) and that of Obaseki led by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), argued their briefs on May 30. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) led the APC legal team while Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) represented INEC. In its judgement, the appellate court held that the appeal brought before it by Ize-Iyamu has two major issues: “One, whether the tribunal properly evaluated the evidence provided to it and gave correct value to it. Two, whether considering the entire evidence before the tribunal, the tribunal was right in declaring that the Appellants failed to prove their petition. “Separate objections were filed by the second (Obaseki) and third (APC) respondents respectively. All the objections were over ruled.” The court declared that: “At the end, we found that the conclusion of the tribunal was unassailable. The tribunal carried out painstaking,
detailed and clear considerations of all aspects of the Appellant’s case. Having dealt with the issues raised by the Appellants, I found this application unmeritorious and hereby dismissed and parties should bear their own cost.” Ruling on the cross appeal filed by Obaseki and APC which faulted the lower tribunal for allowing the counting of ballot papers in the court, the appellate court while dismissing the cross appeal, declared that the trial court was right, saying “I think it will be unfair to expect the trial tribunal to deny the Appellant fair hearing. All these were done to avoid miscarriage of justice. It allows parties to ventilate their grievances in election petition without dismissing the petitions. The Cross Appeal failed for lack of merit and it is dismissed. Parties should bear their respective cost.” Not satisfied with the decision of the appellate court, the PDP and its candidate, Ize-Iyamu approached the apex court to set aside the judgment and declare him as winner of the election.

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