The Court of Appeal in Asaba has overturned the judgement of the National and State Houses of Assembly election petitions tribunal, which had ordered a supplementary election in the Warri South council area of the Delta South Senatorial District.
The appellate court upheld the victory of Joel-Onowakpo, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who had been declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the February 25 election.
The tribunal had ruled that the election that brought in Joel-Onowakpo was inconclusive and that he was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the poll.
The tribunal had based its decision on the cancellation of results in some polling units in Warri South due to violence and irregularities. The tribunal had therefore ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in those units within 90 days.
However, Joel-Onowakpo, a former Director of the Delta Board of Internal Revenue (DBIR), had appealed against the tribunal’s judgement, arguing that he had satisfied the constitutional requirement of scoring the highest number of votes and having one-quarter of the votes in each of the eight local government areas that make up the senatorial district.
He also contended that the tribunal erred in law by relying on hearsay evidence and documents that were not properly tendered and admitted.
The Court of Appeal agreed with Joel-Onowakpo and dismissed the petition filed by Michael Diden, aka Ejele, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who had challenged Joel-Onowakpo’s victory.
The Court of Appeal found the five issues in the appeal filed by Joel-Onowakpo to be of merit and awarded a cost of N250,000 against Michael Diden and the PDP.
Joel-Onowakpo is now the duly elected Senator representing Delta South Senatorial District.
He had emerged as the APC candidate for Delta South Senatorial District in 2022 after defeating former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in a keenly contested primary election.
He had promised to bring development and empowerment to his constituents if elected.
He had also pledged to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda for national transformation.