•Photo: Senator Ovie Omo-Agege
By Martin Aruviere Egharhevwa, Esq
The general public in Delta State and beyond is seeing through the ongoing irresponsible propaganda scheme now activated by Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori’s media handlers to intimidate and harass the Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal to do their bidding. Their sinister and careless plot to run amok with senseless lies, convoluted facts and vain propaganda orchestrated to undermine the judicial process of the Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal that Oborevwori has submitted himself to for impartial adjudication is beyond the pale and must be stopped.
It is often a sign of severe weakness to use underhand attempts to try to avoid a looming judicial loss. This happens where a party or parties to a judicial process plan and use unfounded media propaganda to pressure, harass and coerce judicial officers to do their bidding. It takes excellent legal knowledge by experienced legal minds with a calm spirit to answer to real facts and legal questions laid bare before an election tribunal for resolution, not the sort of fake news recently planted in and spread by Mideno Bayagbon’s TheNewsGuru courtesy of Bayo Millz and/or Pius Mordi (such a confusing authorship) who suggested that Oborevwori has won a case that is yet to be decided by the Honourable Justices of the Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal. Expectedly, to falsely foist Oborevwori on the minds of Deltans and Nigerians as the winner in the ongoing petition brought by the immediate former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), they must and had to lie without shame.
First, Bayo Millz and/or Pius Mordi opened their orchestrated media scheme to pressure the Honourable Justices of the Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal with a nonsensical claim and pitiable cry that Senator Omo-Agege won in only 4 (out of the 25) Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Delta State while suppressing the incontestable fact that the so-called victory of Rt. Hon. Oborevwori in the remaining 21 LGAs came from unlawful and invalid votes which have now been copiously identified by the Petitioners in their petition and the credible evidence they led during the trial of the petition.
Next, the duo of the confused authors of the fake news on Mideno Bayagbon’s TheNewsGuru (that sees no good in anything Omo-Agege for reasons we prefer to ignore) took a flight of fancy to what is not even before the Tribunal when they claimed that the Petitioners “sought refuge on technical grounds relating to pre-election issues” without pointing their readers to a specific portion of the Omo-Agege/APC petition where such is contained.
As a matter of law, an election petition is only competently founded on one or a combination of grounds enumerated in Section 134 of the Electoral Act, 2022. In the instant case, the petition is filed under section 134(1)(b) and (c) that Oborevwori’s election was invalid due to irregularities and noncompliance with the Act in so many polling units where the election is questioned. For this, the Petitioners contend that it was Senator Omo-Agege (NOT Oberevwori) who received the majority of the lawful votes cast and satisfied the spread required by the 1999 Constitution (as altered) to be declared the elected governor of Delta State. Is it not therefore troubling that Bayo Millz and/or Pius Mordi chose to categorise these grounds of the petition as “pre-election issues” when Omo-Agege/APC is not questioning Oborevwori’s qualification to contest the election?
Continuing in their cheap but dangerous propaganda on their choice platform of hate against Omo-Agege and pretending to be the Honourable Justices of the Tribunal, Bayo Millz and/or Pius Mordi declared with a sense of finality and suffocating quackery designed to arrogantly force a fait accompli on the true Tribunal that the Petitioners’ well-articulated case on pervasive overvoting or non-compliance with the mandatory and proper use of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) “could not be proved”. This level of desperation is just unbelievable! Are they not deluding themselves? If not, how can anyone reasonably say this when the evidence before the Tribunal on the BVAS issue is one that none of the Respondents could impeach, having not provided any set of accreditation data different from what the Petitioners and INEC presented?
The fact is that in all the polling units where the Petitioners questioned the non-use or improper use of the BVAS, the Respondents failed woefully to present a scintilla of evidence contradicting the case made out and proved by the Petitioners. For instance, the Petitioners proved without any challenge from the Respondents that the total votes cast in 109 polling units exceeded accreditation with the BVAS machines and that accreditation figures written on result from 27 polling units are totally inconsistent with accreditation evidenced by the voters’ registers presented by INEC. These are places where Oborevwori and PDP received humongous unlawful votes!
Having deliberately told lies in the media to obviously wet the ground to taint a final determination of the petition by the Tribunal that may not suit their jaundiced prejudices, it is necessary to go a bit further to speak fairly to the facts. We are talking of a petition where the evidence led by the Petitioners and even INEC unambiguously confirm that Oborevwori/PDP received almost 130,000 unlawful and invalid votes from over 1,300 polling units where the identities/serial numbers of the result sheets used are unknown, same having not been duly recorded as authentic INEC’s result sheets in the prescribed documents, and this is clearly contrary to the bare and mandatory provision of the innovative section 73(2) operating together with section 137 and paragraph 46(4) (first schedule) amongst other relevant provisions of the Electoral Act. The evidence also confirms that INEC has no documents to justify results in 306 polling units and that documents mandatorily required to be filled before an election could be conducted were not filled in over 200 polling units. Also, the quantities of ballot papers supposed issued to, used and unused in over 500 polling units are inconsistent with what is falsely stated on the results for those units. Additionally, the votes for Oborevwori/PDP in 17 polling units in Oshimili North LGA where just arbitrarily inflated by 11,045 votes. These are the real facts, not mere conjectures.
The issues are even much more and they are just unprecedented, yet those who think the electoral law is a joke are writing judgments for themselves in the media to satisfy their uninformed fancy. Enough said. Whether the Petitioners’ case has merits or not, it is the exclusive duty of the Honourable Justices of the Tribunal to decide, not rabblerousers who know nothing about our electoral jurisprudence. It is manifest on the evidence now before the Tribunal that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege clearly defeated Rt. Hon. Oborevwori with over 14,000 votes and satisfied the constitutional requirements to be declared the duly elected governor of Delta State having scored at least 25% of the votes cast in 24 (out of the 25) LGAs of the State. We will not sit idly by and watch anyone steal the election a second time.
Finally, like all judicial contestations, election petitions are conducted with solemnity in courts before select judicial panels of honourable jurists, not irresponsible conduct on social media, unattractive partisan micro blogs or the internet in general. Election petitions are serious business because their outcomes have far-reaching implications on society. Every well-trained journalist knows that it is irresponsibility that comes within the ambit of criminal conduct to design and activate media schemes to undermine the outcomes of judicial litigations. We advise the likes of Bayo Millz and/or Pius Mordi (if they exist) and their sponsors to tread cautiously in their new found business of writing the judgment of the Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal before the real panel decides the case based on the law, hard facts and unassailable evidence now before it.