Ejele Vs Onowakpo: Tribunal Orders INEC To Conduct Supplementary Election In Warri

Hon. Micheal Diden alias Ejele and Senator Joel Thomas-Onowakpo

By Eseoghene Emuke

The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal in Delta State on Wednesday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a supplementary election in Warri South LGA of Delta South senatorial district within 90 days.

The tribunal declared that the election which produced Senator Joel Thomas-Onowakpo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the senator representing Delta South Senatorial District was inconclusive.

A three-man panel headed by Justice Cathrine Ogunsola gave the ruling while delivering judgement in the case filed by Mr. Michael Diden alias Ejele of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Senator Onowakpo of the APC in Asaba, Delta State.

Reading the judgement, Justice Ogunsola, also set aside the Certificate of Return issued to Senator Onowakpo pending the outcome of the supplementary election to be conducted by INEC in Warri South LGA.

Ejele, dissatisfied by the outcome of the senatorial election in Delta South, filed a petition marked EPT/DT/SEN/01/2023 before the tribunal, urging it to declare him as duly elected senator or in the alternative, the tribunal should order supplementary poll for the disputed Warri South council.

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INEC had during the declaration of Onowakpo as winner of the election, cancelled the result for Warri South on ground that the result was not supported by accreditation.

But the tribunal held that Onowakpo was not duly elected by lawful votes cast, adding that the votes for Warri South were wrongfully cancelled.

Justice Ogunsola held that cancellation of results could only be done by supervising polling unit officer, and not at the local government collation level.

The tribunal lampooned the respondents particularly INEC for insisting that there was no accreditation in Warri South when the same electoral body accepted the results for the presidential and House of Representatives elections that held simultaneously with that of the Senate.

Justice Ogunsola held that the petitioners were able to prove that election was conducted in Warri South, adding that the respondents cannot continue to hide under the generic term of no accreditation to cancel the poll in the said locality.

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The tribunal further held that even the respondents could not prove the allegation of no accreditation in Warri South which they so shouted, insisting that it will be a travesty of justice for INEC to declare that there was no senatorial election in the area while holding that there was presidential and House of Representatives election in the same locality.

Our correspondent learnt that the margin of lead in the said election is about 2,000 votes, whereas the total number of voters who collected Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) in Warri South is over 60,000.

Earlier, Justice Ogunsola dismissed the cross petition brought by Onowakpo, alleging that the credentials submitted to INEC by Diden were forged.


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