The Court of Appeal in Abuja has issued a significant order directing the Delta State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal to resume hearing the suit filed by Kennedy Pela, the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), in the wake of the Delta state governorship election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had previously declared Sheriff Oborevwori, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the winner of the March 18 election in the state, with 360,234 votes. He defeated his closest opponent, Ovie Omo-Agege of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who scored 240,229 votes. Kennedy Pela, the LP candidate, secured the third position with 48,027 votes.

Pela and the LP challenged the election results by filing a petition. They cited grounds such as the non-qualification of the first and second-placed candidates, alleged corrupt practices, and non-compliance with the Electoral Act. They sought either the declaration of Pela as the election winner or, as an alternative, the annulment of the election with a call for a fresh one.

During the pre-hearing stage, Damian Dodo, lead counsel to the governor and his deputy, contended that the LP’s petition had been abandoned. He argued that the petitioner did not take advantage of the seven-day window for a pre-hearing notice and also failed to apply for another pre-hearing notice, making the petition premature, incompetent, and warranting its dismissal.

As a result, the tribunal, led by C.H Ahuchaogu, dismissed Pela’s petition based on Dodo’s argument. Dissatisfied with this decision, the petitioners sought redress at the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal, in its judgment, granted the appellants’ prayers and ordered that the petition be reinstated at the tribunal for a full hearing on its merits.

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