Oshiomhole Now Edo Gov, Appeal Court Sacks Professor Osunbor
Adams Aliu Oshiomhole
In a judgement that lasted over two hours and a half, Justice Umaru Farouk Abdullahi president of the Appeal Court held that the Action Congress (AC) candidate scored highest vote, in the April 14, 2007 governorship poll in Edo State. The court thus dismissed the appeal filed by Professor Oserheimen Osunbor of the People's Democratic Party.
Backed by other members of the Appeal Court, like Justices Isa Ayo Salami, John Fabiyi, Amina Audi and Uzo Anyanwu, the court ordered that Oshiomhole was the duly elected governor and the certificate of returns should therefore be given to him immediately.
The Appeal Court said it arrived at these decisions after careful scrutiny of the lawful votes and invalid votes cast in 12 contentious local government areas and concluded that Oshiomhole not only won the highest number of votes as required in law.
The Edo Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Benin, the state capital, had shocked the Peoples Democratic Party loyalists in the state when on Thursday, 20 March, 2008, it declared Oshiomhole, a former president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), winner of the April 14, 2007 governorship election in the state.
The tribunal said Oshiomhole scored 166,577 votes as against 129,117 scored by Osunbor.
Reading the tribunal verdict on that day, Justice Peter Umeadi, Chairman of the panel declared: "The first petitioner, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, is hereby declared the elected governor of Edo State of Nigeria. He is the candidate who has scored the highest number of votes and has satisfied the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, and the provisions of sections 40 and 147 (2) of the Electoral Act, 2006."
Instructing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of returns to Oshiomhole with immediate effect, Justice Umeadi added, "the election of Senator Oserheimen Osunbor as the governor of Edo State is hereby declared null and void, and nullified."
The tribunal established irregularities in 10 out of the 18 local governments which make up the state. It also cancelled the elections in Akoko-Edo and Etsako Central Local Government Areas.
The AC candidate, Oshiomhole expressed satisfaction at the tribunal ruling when he said, "with the language of the judgement, the dept of the analysis and transparent manner in which the issues were addressed, I think the judiciary has done not just me, but the average Nigerian proud."
While this was his opinion, the sitting governor and his party accused the tribunal of granting a voodoo judgement and decided to pursue their case further at the Appeal Court.
The intrigues that followed made the President of the Appeal Court, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, to take over the case as he led a five-man panel, including Justice John Fabiyi, Amina-Adamu Augie, Ayo Salami and Uzor Anyawu to determine the judgement of the case with number CA/B/EPT/91/2008 and suit number EDGU/EPT/I/2007 that has left several Edo indigenes on danger list due to clashes.
Professor Osunbor, sensing danger, was alleged to have rallied the support of party bigwigs in the state, including his estranged political godfather, Tony Anenih, to stave off any possibility of the AC winning at the Appeal Court.