From Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, Benin

THE court of Appeal sitting in Benin yesterday evening affirmed the election of Delta State governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan when it threw out the appeal brought before it by the candidate of the Action Congress (AC), Peter Okocha in the April 14, 2007 general elections.

In the judgment, which commenced at about 4.50 pm and delivered by Justice Dongbam Mensem, the court ruled that Okocha failed in his appeal which included unlawful exclusion from the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the candidate of the AC and lack of fair hearing at the lower tribunal.

Mensem said Okocha could not prove that he was duly nominated by the AC as its candidate in the election, adding that it was declared at the lower tribunal that he did not also meet the required nomination conditions as expressed by the electoral law.

The court added that about 10 members who he claimed to have nominated him were not members of the party at the time he claimed they nominated him. It noted that the membership card of the persons read 2007, whereas Okocha claimed he was nominated in 2006.

Justice Mensem also ruled that the AC candidate could not also prove that he was not given fair hearing at the lower tribunal, since the onus is on the petitioner to prove beyond doubt that he was not given fair hearing.

The court therefore dismissed all his grounds for appeal and upheld the election that brought Uduaghan to power in 2007. The Appeal Court venue of the jugdment had been besieged by the PDP supporters as early as 9 a.m since the ruling was fixed for 10 a.m, but it did not commence until 4.50p.m as the judges were said to have been in Abuja for a conference.

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