Uduaghan Denies Committing Electoral Offence

Former Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan
Former Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan

Former Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, has described the report by the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, indicting him of electoral offences, as lazy and not well researched.

An NHRC report released on Thursday had indicted Uduaghan; former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Maurice Iwu, former Edo State governor, Oserheimen Osunbor and former Acting Governor of Kogi State, Clarence Obafemi, of having committed various electoral offences during the 2007 and 2011 general elections in Nigeria.

Uduaghan, who spoke with a reporter from THE NATION newspaper, accused the NHRC of not thoroughly studying the circumstances surrounding the nullification of his 2007 electoral  victory before including his name in the list of poll offenders.

He maintained that he was wrongly removed by the Appeal Court in Benin, and could not appeal to the Supreme Court at the time because governorship cases ended at the appeal court.

He added that other landmark judgments had clarified that the Appeal court at the time was wrong as the “burden of proof” lies on the accuser and not the accused.

“Therefore the Appeal Court judgment in Benin was wrongly against me. Unfortunately, the National Human Rights Commission did not study my case properly before making their recommendation,” he insisted.

He said: “The Court of Appeal nullified my 2007 election based on the law of burden of proof: Who does the burden of proof rest on? The petitioner or the respondent?

“My 2007 governorship election was nullified in November 2010 on the basis of the decision by the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, that a petitioner who lost election at the polling centre claiming before the tribunal that no election took place, has no burden of proving his assertion, as the burden rests on the party that asserts that election took place.

    “That led to the re-run election. I could not go to the Supreme Court then because governorship cases ended at the Appeal Court.

    “However, the decision of burden of proof was finally laid to rest in the case of the 2011 Presidential election between the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, versus INEC where the election of the President was questioned.

    “The Petitioner alleged non-compliance with the electoral process. But the Supreme Court ruled that there can be no passing the bucket until the petitioner has discharged the onus cast on him by law, meaning the onus does not shift to the respondent.”

    Bem Angwe, Executive Secretary of the NHRC, while presenting the report on Thursday said the commission had made recommendations to the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Nigerian Police to conduct further investigations on the Electoral report and prosecute those indicted accordingly.

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