Supreme Court affirms Sheriff Oborevwori as Delta PDP governorship candidate

THE Supreme Court has affirmed Sheriff Oborevwori as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 governorship election in Delta State.

Oborevwori is the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly.

Following his victory in the party’s primary election in May, Oborevwori’s candidacy has been a subject of litigation due to inconsistencies in his academic records.

David Edevbie, one of the contestants of the primary election, had alleged that there are inconsistencies in the academic certificates submitted by Oborevwori to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Edevbie pointed out that the Speaker used conflicting names such as Oborevwori, Sheriff, Francis and Orohwedor, interchangeably in his certificates.

As a result, Edevbie asked the Federal High Court to disqualify Oborevwori, arguing that he violated the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act.

In its judgment in July, the Federal High Court ruled in favour of Edevbie by nullifying Oborevwori’s candidacy.

The presiding judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, held that Edevbie’s suit was meritorious as Oborevwori failed to provide contrary evidence to contradict the claims in the suit.

While he did not declare Edevbie as the candidate of the party, the judge also did not declare a fresh primary election to be conducted.

However, the judgment was voided by a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Peter Ige.

Justice Ige described the judgment of the lower court as a miscarriage of justice because the criminal allegations were not established as required by law.

He held that claims against the Speaker were criminal in nature and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The appellate court also held that the defendant ought to have approached the lower court via Writ of Summons to enable the resolution of disputes and not by originating summons where only affidavit evidence was required.

The court ruled that the allegations of certificate forgery and faking of documents against the Oborevwori were such that required witnesses from those who issued the certificates and the alleged fake documents.

The Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal ruling in a judgment on Friday.

Delivering judgment in an appeal filed by Edevbie, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Amina Augie held that there was no merit in the suit.

In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Tijjani Abubakar, the apex court upheld the legal reasoning of the Court of Appeal that the suit ought not to have been commenced by originating summons.



    The court held that issues bordering on serious allegations of fraud could not be commenced by originating summons “as mere affidavits are not enough to address the issues.”

    The apex court noted that “Sundry allegations of fraud” by Edevbie against Oborevwori required the calling of witnesses and oral testimony.

    “I find no merit in this appeal, and it is hereby dismissed. The decision of the Court of Appeal delivered on 29 August is hereby affirmed,” the Supreme Court held.

    The apex court further held that the Federal High Court erred when it nullified Oborevwori’s nomination.

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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