Imo State Governor Ikedi Ohakim will tomorrow know whether he will remain the chief executive of the state as the Court of Appeal in Abuja is set to deliver judgment in the appeal filed by the All Progressive Grand Alliance (AGPA) candidate in the 2007 governorship election in the state, Chief Martins Agbaso. Agbaso is challenging the cancellation of the April 14, 2007, election in the state by the
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the validity of the April 28, 2007 election, which produced Ohakim as governor.
Information made available to THISDAY last night revealed that the court presided over by Justice Rabiu Danlami, which had at its last sitting adjourned indefinitely to enable it prepare for the judgment, has informed parties in the suit to be present in court tomorrow for the final verdict.
Agbaso had filed a suit before the court, urging it to hold that the gubernatorial election conducted by INEC on April 14, 2007 in the state was valid.
He brought an application to amend his originating processes where he adduced further evidence, arguing that in the event that his applications are granted, the appellate court should declare him the winner of the election.
Among the questions Agbaso is asking the court to determine are: why did INEC cancel an election that was concluded and yet upheld that of the state House of Assembly election conducted simultaneously and why did violence mar one and left the other?
Other questions are: Can INEC under the constitution and electoral act cancel an election that has substantially conformed to the rules prescribed for announcing results? Can an election duly concluded in all the polling centres and wards across the state, results counted at polling booths and ward levels and subsequently entered into Forms EC8A and EC8B be cancelled?
At the last adjourned date, Agbaso while adopting his brief of argument through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), urged the court to uphold the appeal and order the nullification of Ohakim’s election.
He also argued that Agbaso having won 24 out of the 27 local government areas in the state and obtained the majority votes at the election, he should have been issued with a certificate of return by INEC as the duly elected governor of the state.
Counsel to Chief Ifeanyi Ararume of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said if the election of the state House of Assembly was held same day with that of the cancelled governorship election, why was the additional evidence now being sought to be tendered not attached earlier?
According to him, the circumstance of the case demands that the April 28, 2007 governorship election be voided and a by-election ordered between the APGA candidate, PDP candidate and other parties but excluding the incumbent governor who had defected from the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) to PDP.
Fagbemi said Araraume was the original candidate of PDP, while Ohakim was still a member of PPA from where he crossed to PDP.
He said since Araraume was robbed of his ticket, the best way to get justice was for the Appeal Court to cancel the election and make him the authentic candidate of PDP.
INEC, however, vehemently opposed the appeal. Its counsel, Adetunji Oyeyepo (SAN), told the court there was no material evidence before it to justify granting the relief of the appellant.
He prayed the court to dismiss the appeal because the orders being sought by Agbaso could only be granted by the election tribunal.
While urging the court not to grant the proposed amendment and additional evidence as an inadmissible public document, he said: “They want to be declared winner of the election of April 14, 2007. As at today, there is no evidence before this court on how they won the election. In any case it cannot in any way advance their case bearing in mind that the notice of appeal was dated 12 May 2008.”
Ohakim, on his part, said the argument should be discountenanced because Ararume had no legal right since he lost at the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt.
He submitted that to grant the appellant’s prayers to amend his relief would mean changing the character and scope of the appeal.
He maintained that the political party agent result sheets relied upon by the appellant in the case was useless if not supported by INEC Form EC8A.