By Amos Igbebe
Following the sack of the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, and the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, by the governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja, fear has gripped politicians who are sympathetic to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State.
Besides the sympathetic politicians, members of the state executive council, including commissioners, Special Advisers, Special Assistants, Board Chairmen and members, who were appointed by the Okowa government are currently gripped with fear over the possibility of losing their offices should the tribunal invalidate the election of their principal, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
The fear is not unconnected with the possibility of Okowa losing at the re-run that may be declared should the tribunal upturn Okowa’s electoral victory at the April 11 governorship election in the state.
This is so because the governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, has fixed final sitting of the tribunal on Monday (October 26) where it would deliver judgment on the much contentious electoral victory of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State.
As in other states where losers had taken the declared winners of the April 11 governorship election to the tribunal, candidates of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the Delta Governorship election, Olorogun Otega Emerhor and his counterpart in the Labour Party, Chief Great Ogboru, had contended the victory of Okowa in the tribunal.
They had prayed the tribunal to invalidate Senator Okowa’s victory citing various degrees of irregularities and malpractices in the election that brought Okowa to Delta Government House.
Otega, in his petition, alleged that Okowa manipulated the votes of the electorate leading to his party securing more votes than the number of accredited voters in the election.
In the election which produced Okowa, the Governor scored 724, 000 votes, Ogboru scored 130,000 votes while Emerhor garnered 63,000 votes in all the 25 local government areas of the state.
But, according results from the card readers, only 715,000 voters were accredited and uploaded at the central server at the headquarters of the election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Following the release of the number of accredited voters compared with the figures scored by each contender, Ogboru and Emerhor are of the belief that Okowa rigged his way into victory, hence they had prayed the tribunal to upturn the election of Okowa and call for a re-run in the state.
But Okowa’s defense dwelt on the fact that there was provision for manual accreditation for voters who could not be accredited by the card readers provided by INEC, hence the additional number was the product of the voters manually accredited by INEC.
The two opponents and the defender called various witnesses who were subpoenaed by the tribunal and gave various discordant witnesses during the period the tribunal gave opportunity to all the parties concerned to submit witnesses either against or for the victory of Okowa.
The battle either for Okowa or against Okowa will come to rest on Monday as the three man tribunal led by Justice Nasiru Gunmi will put paid to all the contentious battle going on online and over the social media by the camps of Emerhor and that of Okowa.
It was learnt that as part of measures to forestall possible breakdown of law and order that may follow the declaration of the result, water tight security made up of the mobile police force and men of the military had been provided at the tribunal ground.
Supporters of the three political parties and their candidates, party leaders from across the state, board chairmen, local government chairmen and a broad spectrum of Deltans are expected to grace the tribunal on Monday.
While some are of the view that the election of Okowa will be invalidated, many others cite the case of Lagos State as the tribunal failed to have good reasons to upturn Akinwumi Ambode’s election.
Again, following the trend in Delta, it may be difficult to align with the prophets who support invalidation of elections in the state. This is even so as all the cases decided from the House of Assembly election petition tribunal, including the Speaker, Monday Igbuya, Alphosus Ojo, Orezi Esievo, it had been victory for the PDP all the way.
However, with the overwhelming evidences on ground against the PDP and its candidate, the trend and jinx may be broken.
Fear, Anxiety Grip Delta PDP As Tribunal Delivers Judgment Monday
By Amos Igbebe