Anxiety mounts in Benin over delay in Osunbor’s, Oshiomhole’s case appeal
John Mayaki, Benin
There is anxiety in the ancient city of Benin, four months after the Election Petition Tribunal gave judgment in favour of the Action Congress (AC) and its candidate, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Based on the petition filed by the AC and Oshiomhole, the tribunal had nullified the election of the Peoples Democratic (PDP) governorship candidate Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor.
Osunbor has appealed the tribunal’s judgment.
However, there is no clue as to when the panel of judges to hear the appeal would be constituted.
Journalists in Edo State were inundated with calls from in and outside the country on the judgment rumoured to have been given last Monday. Some were said to have been wining and dining in Ondo State over the news that Comrade Oshiomhole had won the appeal.
It would be recalled that the Justice Peter Umeadi-led tribunal had ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to within 90 days issue certificate of return to Oshiomhole, which lapsed last month just as interested parties are yet to be told when the judges would sit to hear the appeal.
Yesterday, expectation that the judges would give judgment heightened as hundreds of interested persons in Benin City thronged the venue of the Appeal Court premises in Ikpoba Hill but were said to have been calmed by an official of the Appeal Court .
Also, there is no provision in the Nigerian constitution, the Electoral Act or the Court of Appeal Rules on the specified time in which the appeal would be concluded. However, there is a stipulated time appellants could file their grounds of appeal and when the respondent would reply on point of law, The Nation learnt.
Governor Osunbor is praying the Appeal Court to declare him winner of the election or in the alternative, order a re-run.
In his reaction, Action Congress (AC) candidate, Oshiomhole said: “What Osunbor is praying the Appeal Court was to nullify the election because he said he has two prayers. One prayer is that he believes he won the election. The second prayer is that if, however, the court believes that he didn’t win, they should nullify it. He admitted to that.
“And what he is praying before the court is not confidential; it is in black and white before the court and anybody can obtain a copy. The fact is that if he realizes he did not win the election, why should he remain in office and continue to use state resources to blackmail and intimidate and to bulldoze his way?
“I think right now, he must be very busy because his own party members have alleged that he is using state resources converted to dollars to fight them at the PDP secretariat in Abuja. And so, if he is doing that, we don’t need any witch doctor to tell us that he must be doing the same thing to try to armtwist the judiciary but we know he will fail the way he failed before.
“As a professor of Law, the media should have asked him that his second prayers on if he did not win the election, there should be a re-run; was that in his prayers at the tribunal? In his reply to my petition at the tribunal, he did not include nullification, why will he come at the level of appeal to now include nullification as part of his second prayer?
“We are confident that the judiciary will dispense justice. Of course, we have lost a lot of time and he is very happy because every day that passes, he uses state resources to manipulate the system, we are sure that our God will not fail us. We have confidence that the judiciary will do justice.”
Also, the state chapter of the PDP says it is worried by the series of annulment done to its April 14 and 21, 2007 governorship and legislative elections by the tribunal.
The state PDP expressed fear of uncertainty as to whether the Appeal Court would uphold the judgment of the tribunal delivered in favour of Oshiomhole in the face of the intractable crisis that has done irreparable damage to the rank and file of the party.
The Leader of the PDP, Edo South Senatorial district, Owere Dickson Imasogie said should the Appeal Court set aside the ruling of the lower court, the PDP must unite to fight the major opposition in the state.
Imasogie, who is also the PDP state vice chairman had at a press briefing in Benin City recently stated that “this reconciliation in the party is very necessary because, we don’t know what the Appeal Court will say.
“There are a lot of nullifications but we want to start putting our house together to avoid being overtaken, should the Appeal Court ask us to go for re-election.”
Also, a PDP chieftain, Barrister Henry Idahagbon, at the meeting held in Imasogie’s house told The Nation in an exclusive interview that “what should be the issue now in the party is how to forge ahead. We are in a state with a formidable opposition. Nobody can gloss over the opposition from the Action Congress and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who is a distinguished son of Edo state.”