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Tribunal upholds Delta State Governorship Election as Accusations of N3 Billion Bribes Fly

BellaNaija.com

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Ifeanyi OkowaWith the headline-grabbing Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal result still fresh in the minds of politicians, all eyes were on Asaba today.

There, the Delta State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal squashed the petitions of the All Progressives Congress and the Labour Party challenging Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa’s election win.

The Tribunal rejected the petitions against Okowa and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The tribunal asked the Labour Party to pay N50,000 each to the respondents in the case.

Just as the news of the tribunal victory spread, Sahara Reporters released a report claiming the “Delta Chief Judge Infiltrates Election Tribunal As Governor Okowa Doles Out N3 Billion Bribes”. SH says “the Chief Judge of Delta State, Justice Marshal Umukoro, has compromised at least two of the three members of the tribunal handling governorship, House of Assembly and National Assembly elections petitions in the state, a judicial source and a security agent have disclosed to SaharaReporters.”

16 Comments

  1. Dentale

    October 26, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Deltans what’s your opinion of this Governor? The tales I hear from Warri are quite sad. Lack of development and gross insecurity. Whats his plan? It’s not just to open 42 teeth! I haven’t heard any positive report for this man. At least Wike is fixing roads in Port Harcourt. I stand to be corrected though.

    • Emy

      October 26, 2015 at 10:52 pm

      U r very correct! The past and present governor nor just get head. Sahara please leave Justice Umukoro abeg. Majority of Deltans dont like Okowa but sorry APC cannot rule delta. The right candidate is in the wrong party.

    • Anon

      October 27, 2015 at 1:52 am

      Who is the right candidate in the wrong party? Ogboru? As long as Ibb is still alive he won’t see that seat.

    • Chukwudumebi Nwokolo

      December 29, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      Sahara Reporters, Governor Okowa and the many accusations against the Nigerian Judiciary: An issue beyond silence.

      In the past two months, Sahara Reporters, an emerging online media giant on news in Nigeria had in five different articles, assertively attacked the Nigerian judiciary of bribery on a particular issue of electoral contest involving the present Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa. In some instances, it even made very disturbing, clear defamatory, biased and prejudiced remarks on Nigerian judges as if it had obtained a license from its New York base that permits it to malign the Nigerian Judiciary without being challenged. Specifically, in its edition of October 25, 2015, it published “Delta Chief Judge Infiltrates Election Tribunal As Governor Okowa Doles Out N3 Billion Bribes”, on November 4, 2015, it made public the disclosure “NJC Judicial Officials Accused Of Taking N3 Billion Bribe Now Under Security Surveillance”, on December 21, 2015, it stated that “Court Of Appeal President Sacks Panel Of Judges Over Corruption In Delta Case, Appoints New Judges”. Again, on December 22, 2015, it reported that ‘’Justice Marshal Umukoro In Bribery Scandal; As Ogboru’s Petition Removes Appeal Court Judges And Venue For Ruling’’. Furthermore, on December 23, 2015 a day before judgement was passed, Sahara Reporters in its usual bombastic manner released another story with the caption ‘’Delta Gubernatorial Case: Governor Okowa Moves to Influence New Panel of Appellate Court’’. Then finally, on December 24, 2015 it carried ‘’Appeal Court Dismisses Ogboru’s Appeal Against Okowa’s Election’’.

      Without a doubt, any objective political analyst, public affairs commentator or follower of political events in Nigeria’s democracy would have been very disturbed about the way Sahara Reporters carried its bribery stories with effrontery against the Nigerian judiciary as if being paid by a special interest to advance a certain opinion as a settled matter. In fact, this is very disappointing especially given Sahara Reporters’ open expression of a stubborn steadfast refusal to accurately report the matter as mere accusations. For instance, in its publication of December 21, 2015, it stated that ‘’The sacked corrupt and compromised judges whose names were (sic) are Justice J.O. Bada, Justice P.M. Ekpe, Justice H.A. Barka, Justice M.N. Oniyiangi, and Justice U.A. Ogakwu’’. Apparently, what Sahara Reporters tried to do was to inflame the passion of its readers by trumping an ordinary issue of perception to appear like reality through a long chain of accusations against the judiciary without necessarily bothering if the stories lack balance in sources or contravenes the basic standards of professional journalism.

      While admitting that a relatively free but reliable press is absolutely important as pillars for both proper democratic governance and mechanism to check abuses resulting from injustice, it is also vital to recognize that in all these referenced articles, what seems obvious is that Sahara Reporters without resorting to any act of reasonable criticism or providing any shred of evidence to buttress the alleged bribery engaged in sensationalism in a desperate bid to make news out of the Delta State governorship election or satisfy the motives of its sponsors. Indeed, this is where Sahara Reporters crossed the limits of focused journalism as it obviously exercised its freedom of expression irresponsibly.

      The truth remains that for any editor or publisher to write that a judge charged with the administration of justice has been bribed is not a minor allegation that should be swept under the carpet by either the Nigerian public or the leadership of the Nigerian Judiciary, otherwise such silence will cultivate disrepute and ridicule for the nation’s judiciary. On the converse, for Sahara Reporters to have consistently written that at various stages of the electoral tussle involving Dr. Okowa, ranging from the Election Tribunal, Appeal Court to a reconstituted Appeal Panel, all the thirteen judges involved were bribed with specified amount of money without any credible evidence is grave mischief as it is not only intended to deplete public confidence in the administration of justice and fair hearing but to serve as gross embarrassment and intimidation to the entire Nigerian Judiciary. The reality is that if ever there was any issue like bribery linked to this electoral contest, common sense would have rightly informed even the giver of the bribe of the impossibility in galvanizing contacts that would inspire all the judges to grant unanimous victory in all stages of the trial without any raising a dissenting view as was the eventual situation at the long trial. For emphasis, even in a despotic regime or Banana Republic, the possibility of a party to a case, to flog all the judges into line may not have been possible without recourse to the rule of law.

      Presently, even though this hitherto controversial electoral case courtesy of Sahara Reporters has been decided by the reconstituted Panel of Judges in favour of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, an obvious indication that the contents of stories published by Sahara Reporters are baseless and false, it is important to state that the claims of bribery by Sahara Reporters against all the judges, assaults against Nigerian Judiciary and motivations behind such, still merits thorough examination in the overall interest of public good. Indeed, in a country like Nigeria that is still in a hard struggle to stabilize its democratic process, any act of misconduct, brazen irresponsibility of online editors or impunity by any news media against the judiciary should not be allowed to stand.

      Consequently, if Sahara Reporters remains unable to provide substantial evidence to prove that judges who decided the case were bribed as it alleged in its many articles, then what it did should not only be regarded as a clear audacious misdemeanor and be greeted with silence. Instead, it should be treated as an obvious impudence and act of impunity to introduce distractions that would hamper the work of the judiciary which to a large extent in this case could be termed deliberate obstruction of justice. This is why Sahara Reporters’ dubious attempt to thrust both the integrity and ability of Nigerian Judges into doubt especially in the discharge of their judicial responsibilities must be investigated and where necessary be visited with an appropriate punishment.

      What Sahara Reporters has done amounts to reckless, malicious and gross disservice to the reading public. This deliberate and calculated act to mislead the public with falsehood should be of great concern to Nigerians and the expressed penchant for Sahara Reporters to have engaged in continuously writing slanderous articles that have the potency to derogate the dignity of the judicial institution is quite unfortunate as it has not only destroyed the confidence of some Nigerian people in their justice system but bred disrespect for those charged with the administration of justice. Indeed, such an exhibited callous propensity to deliberately scandalize or tarnish the image of the Nigerian courts in the internet must be condemned and curbed, otherwise fabricated news reporting will be believed as facts with potency of causing gross injury to the Judiciary in the eyes of the world.

      As much as Sahara Reporters may have chosen to ignore facts by moving from journalism of fairness and accuracy in reporting to a new ground of irresponsible political advocacy, it is now the responsibility of relevant authorities in Nigeria to promptly act in order to continually protect the integrity of the rule of law from outside influence. The Nigerian Judiciary, law enforcement agents and the body responsible for upholding good journalistic ethics must take action that will make it very difficult for the publishers of Sahara Reporters to disregard the consequences of generating unfounded remarks that diminish the dignity and authority of the courts. On this issue of unsubstantiated bribery against the Judges, it is obvious that Sahara Reporters has met with dead ends and should be charged for Contempt of court, perhaps, this will make other online media outfits act with reasonable courtesy and good faith or stay restrained to the realm of objective criticism when discussing the activities of the Nigerian judiciary and other important issues of National interest. It is good that a new Nigerian law may not be needed to address such a matter because the existing laws of New York where Sahara Reporters claims as its base of operations has sufficient regulations to address such an anomaly with the huge possibility of revoking its right as online media publisher.

  2. peter okolie

    October 26, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    With Okowa at the helm of affairs, Delta State is dead. He is the most incompetent Gover in Nigeria today. With his series of appointments, you can see that Okowa is as confused and irrelevant to the development agenda of Delta State. EFCC and ICPC must drag their searchlight on the tribunal judges. If true that they were in port harcourt with the Delta State Chief Judge, then that is a good beginning to probe them. Delta State just cannot continue like this. Enough is enough!

    • WARRI PIKIN

      October 27, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Even the President has not settled well in office to perform the magic we all are waiting for, so stop accusing our Gov so soon of none performance. By the way you sound so bitter because you were not appointed into any off, shame on you. I have all it takes to be appointed and i was not appointed, we can not all be in his government , abeg get busy with farm work it pays to be a farmer. Onye ojor

    • WARRI PIKIN

      October 27, 2015 at 8:06 am

      @Peter Okolie …………..
      Even the President has not settled well in office to perform the magic we all are waiting for, so stop accusing our Gov so soon of none performance. By the way you sound so bitter because you were not appointed into any off, shame on you. I have all it takes to be appointed and i was not appointed, we can not all be in his government , abeg get busy with farm work it pays to be a farmer. Onye ojor

  3. peter okolie

    October 26, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    The most painful part is that Justice Marshal Umukoro seemingly donate a lot to the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, West End, Asaba for God’s work. But this double dealing by the Chief Judge is not new. Just about the time of his appointment as a Chief Judge by former Governor Uduaghan, he was always stalking about Governor Uduaghan during the burial ceremony of Uduaghan’s brother at Abigborodo in Warri North Local Government Area.

    • Emy

      October 26, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      Marchal got his appointment based on merit sir. He was next after the retired justice smith. He donates to his church does not make him corrupt. Sahara reporters be looking for ways to tarnish the image of pdp simply because they won. There is court of appeal.n supreme court…They should follow due process

  4. ElessarisEllendil

    October 26, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    So does APC get credit for this verdict too? I mean they’re targeting all the Oil states right?

  5. iLookDope.com

    October 26, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    meehhn am so so happy for okowa. proudly ika

    • Ananymous

      October 28, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      Are your happy for the Governor’s polimagic victory only because you are from Ika or because he is going to sap Delta treasury for you for the next 8 years. You must not be tribalistic when it come to political development. This is not victory for the people but for the greedy few.

  6. Tectono Business Review

    October 26, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    We, at Tectono Business Review, knew that Dr. Ifeanyi’s election would be upheld. He is the people’s governor loved by Deltans.
    tectono-business.com

  7. Noms

    October 27, 2015 at 7:37 am

    PDP has never won any election in Delta state. The APC candidate cannot win an election in his village hence APC’s silence on this issue.
    The right man is in the wrong party as someone has rightly said but everybody knows he is a threat to some people like IBB who cannot forgive him like they were good people too.
    Okowa is not and will not be the people’s governor but the money governor.
    A state that is in debt and still sends his house of assembly members to American on a 3-week vacation? Appoints over 100 PAs/SAs mostly unschooled area boys.
    If GMB claims to belong to no body he should step into this delta state issue.
    we don taya for pdp rubbish but even the judiciary is used against the same people who look to it for defense.
    Delta state is a far cry from the allocations she gets.
    No peace for the wicked.

  8. WARRI PIKIN

    October 27, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Governor Okowa is too addicted to God that he will not get involved in such desperate bribery, He won clearly between the 3 contestants, he was most favoured as the other two didn’t have much support from Deltants , The Governor will perform well,, watch out and see changes soon once everyone currently ruling are all fully settled for the job they were voted in to do. Let me also add here that, our Judge Justice Umukoro is one of the most principled and learned personality we are lucky to have in Delta state, he won’t succumb to pressure. He knows better abeg !
    Sahara reporters have a different agenda, they are looking for bribe, this is what they do, they blackmail you when they approach you for bribery in order not to publish something about you, if you refuse they go GAGA, thank God Nigerians are wiser and know when to smell the coffee.

  9. kevwe

    October 27, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    warrior piking you are such a disgrace I must say. inform know how old you are and I don’t care to give you any respect no matter the age bcoz you don’t deserve one. it is obvious u r a benefactor of Pdp exploitation of the state resources go to airport Rd can what uduaghan left behind. private uti. name it. we don’t even talk about udu upward bcoz does pipl r in bundage consciously handed over to them by past govt full of hate and wickedness. u n tectono biz God help u all that when ur children grow up will be able to forgive u for what u both r saying. the state is in heavy burden placed on it by Pdp and pipl like u ur children n their children will live in suffering caused by this same pipl. we have had enough of PSP in delta state. okowa ur saint pointed a gun at d returning officer forcing him to declare him winner of the senator that he eventually become. may God deliver delta from PSP and pipl like u.

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