One month after the suit was filed, the Federal High Court in Abuja on July 7, ordered the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to replace the name of Mr. Sherrif Oborevwori with that of Mr. David Edevbie as the lawful candidate of the PDP for the March 11, 2023, gubernatorial elections in Delta State.
The judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, disqualified Oborevwori, who is the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, from contesting the 2023 election in the state.
He held that Oborevwori was not eligible to contest the election because he supplied false information to INEC to back his nomination as his party’s candidate.
The judgment followed a suit filed by Edevbie, a former Commissioner of Finance in the Governor James Ibori administration.
Mr. Edevbie came second behind Oborevwori in the May 25, 2022, primary election of the PDP.
The originating summons in the suit was filed on the plaintiff’s behalf on June 3, 2022, by Habeeb A. Oredola Esq of Habeeb Oredola & Associates. At the proceedings of 21st June 2022 the team of the Plaintiff was led in led in the adoption by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) A.J Eko SAN.
It alleged, among others, inconsistencies in the names on the academic certificates submitted by Oborevwori to INEC.
He sued Oborevwori, PDP, and INEC as 1st to the 3rd respondents respectively.
The 1st Defendant, as alleged by the plaintiff, falsified the information touching his age and name.
It was alleged further that the 1st Defendant forged/presented a fake WAEC result bearing the name of someone else entirely and a date.
The Plaintiff prayed for the disqualification of the 1st Defendant going by the provisions of Section 182(1) (j) of the 1999 Constitution. The Plaintiff also asserted that he is an Aspirant and by the express provision of section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended) he has the right to commence an action to challenge the educational qualification of Oborevwori.
The Plaintiff by the Reliefs 6 and 7 of the Originating Summons sought to be declared the winner, in the main, upon the disqualification of the 1st Defendant by the court.
The plaintiff sought to be declared the lawful winner of the 2nd Defendant’s Delta State Governorship Primary election in which he fully participated and polled the second highest votes.
The Plaintiff also sought that the 1st Defendant’s name be replaced or substituted for his name as the lawful and qualified candidate or flag bearer of the 2nd Defendant in the 2023 gubernatorial election in Delta State.
Upon service of the plaintiff’s processes, the first defendant filed a counter-affidavit and written address on June 17 asking the court to hold that the complaint against his qualification to contest the primaries was not justiciable.
He also contended that the plaintiff could not initiate the suit according to Section 29 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
On its part, the second defendant argued that the plaintiff’s suit was premature, academic and of no utilitarian value.
Joe Agi SAN represented the 1st defendant, while A. T Kehinde SAN was for the 2nd defendant.
Justice Taiwo granted an accelerated hearing on the case.
He further asked the parties to abstain from doing anything that would affect the reliefs being sought by the applicant (Edevbie).
He held that the plaintiff’s suit was meritorious as Oborevwori failed to provide contrary evidence to contradict the claims in the suit.
Justice Taiwo held that several weighty allegations of fraud were raised in the affidavit in support of the Originating Summons as well as the Further and Better Affidavit filed by the Plaintiff and the said allegations were not addressed by the 1st and 2nd Defendants. The court pronounced that denial in a matter of this nature must be specific and not general.
Justice Taiwo pronounced that in view of the failure of the 1st and 2nd Defendants to controvert the depositions of the Plaintiff, the court is left with no choice but to believe and rely on the deposition as uncontroverted. The court held that it is trite law that the court must give credence to uncontroverted averments as in the instant case.
Justice Taiwo held: “From the facts before this court and the documents which I have referred to earlier, the plaintiff who is also an aspirant, in my well-considered view, has proved the statutory duty placed on him to prevent persons with questionable credentials, who have submitted false information or forged documents in order to gain an undeserved advantage given the falsity in the documents from succeeding in their ungodly enterprise.
“The plaintiff has proved the allegation within the confines of the law. Therefore, I find and hold that the issues for determination in prayers 1,2,4 and 5 are answered in favour of the plaintiff. I so hold. With respect to prayer 3, I see no reason not to grant prayer 3 also in favour of the plaintiff. Same is accordingly granted.
“I have held that the plaintiff has proved his case against the 1st and 2nd defendants. I, therefore, see no reason not to grant reliefs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. These reliefs are accordingly granted. In order to cement the success of the plaintiff and to give more flesh to the judgement of the court, I also grant orders 6 and 7 as prayed intoto. This is the judgment of the court.”
The reliefs 6 and 7 of the Originating Summons are reproduced for clarity (6) AN ORDER of this Honourable Court disqualifying the 1st Defendant from participating as the candidate of the 2nd Defendant in the forthcoming 2023 gubernatorial elections in Delta state, scheduled for 11th March, 2023 by the 3rd Defendant. (7) AN ORDER of this Honourable Court commanding, directing or otherwise mandating the 2nd and 3rd Defendants to replace, forthwith, the name of the 1st Defendant with that of the Plaintiff as the lawful candidate of the 2nd Defendant for the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Delta State, now scheduled for 11th March, 2023 by the 3rd Defendant.