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Delta PDP Guber Tussle Not over as Edevbie Asks Supreme Court to Declare Him Party’s Candidate

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Barely two weeks after an Appeal Court voided his declaration by a Federal High Court as the Delta State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 governorship election, Mr. David Edevbie, has asked the Supreme Court to re-affirm his candidacy.

 

Edevbie, in a 23-ground of appeal, faulted the entire unanimous decision of the three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Peter Ige and asked the apex court to hold that he is the rightful candidate of the PDP in the Delta State governorship election slated for February next year.

 

The appeal filed by his lawyer, Mr. Eko Ejembi Eko (SAN), has Oborevwori Sheriff Francis Orohwedor, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents, respectively.Following the governorship primary election held in the state on May 25, 2022, Oborevwori had emerged as the PDP candidate after overcoming his closest rival, Edevbie

 

While Oborevwori polled a total of 590 votes, Edevbie scored 113 votes and the Deputy Governor of the state, Chief Kingsley Otuaro, and the immediate past Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Peter Mrakpor, scored nine votes each.But Edevbie, a former Commissioner for Finance, who felt aggrieved, went to the Federal High Court in Abuja to contest the credentials Oborevwori submitted to INEC.

 

In suit number: FHC/ABJ/795/2022, he alleged that the documents were forged.Among the prayers Edevbie sought at the court included an order removing Oborevwori as the flagbearer of the PDP and that his name be forwarded to INEC as an authentic candidate of the PDP.

 

In his judgment, Justice Taiwo Taiwo on July 7, 2022, disqualified Oborevwori who is also the Speaker of the state House of Assembly. The court ordered INEC and the PDP to recognise Edevbie as the candidate of the party in the election.The trial judge agreed with Edevbie that Oborevwori ought not to be on the ballot for the PDP primary election on account of supplying false and forged documents to INEC to aid his qualification for the governorship election.

 

But not satisfied with the judgment, Oborevwori and the PDP headed to the Court of Appeal to seek redress.In an 18-ground of appeal, they urged the appellate court to set aside the judgment.Citing a plethora of authorities, they asked the appellate court to upturn the verdict and give them victory.

 

In a unanimous judgment, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Peter Ige held that the lower court erred in law in concluding that Oborevwori was not qualified to participate in the governorship primary election of the PDP on account of forgery and perjury.The three-man panel agreed with the appellant that the suit filed by Edevbie was wrongly initiated because allegations of criminal offences must be proven beyond affidavit evidence.

 

It noted that cases involving criminal allegations ought not to have commenced by an Originating Summons as in the instant case.The court held that this case “cannot be resolved without recourse to oral evidence” because the issue of forgery and falsehood and others raised by the plaintiff and 1st respondent “is deeply rooted in criminality”.

 

The panel stressed that such criminal cases must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt with the calling of relevant witnesses and not by mere affidavit evidence.

 

The court held that the failure of Edevbie to call relevant witnesses was fatal to the case and the trial court erred in law when he found merit in the suit and granted the reliefs sought.According to the judgment, Edevbie would have called the institutions he claimed their certificates were forged to prove his allegations, adding that the forged certificates and other documents must be presented before the court to substantiate the allegations.

Culled from THISDAY

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