Yesterday, opened his defence at the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Asaba.
Okowa’s election is being challenged by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Great Ogboru, in the March 9 governorship election.
The petitioners had last week closed their case before the Justice Suleiman Belgore-led three man tribunal.
A mild drama however ensued at the resume trial when a witness of the first respondent, Mathew Ofioguma, claimed he was unable to read documents presented by the petitioners’ counsel without his glasses.
The witness said he was a voter in Ward 7, Unit 7, Ekrogbe quarters, Ekrejegbe community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state.
Even though the tribunal Chairman, Justice Belgore and counsel to the petitioners, Nichols Icheko, offered their glasses, the witness rejected them, saying he can only read with his specially customised glasses.
Counsel to the first respondent, Damian Dodo (SAN), had earlier announced his readiness to open defence and thereafter proceeded to call the first witness, Ofioguma.
Samson Eigege, a counsel in the first respondent’s team, led the witness in evidence. Under cross examination, lead counsel to the petitioners, Ichekor, asked the witness to confirm the serial number on exhibits P5 and P5A for Aniocha North and Aniocha South councils.
Justice Belgore said the tribunal could do nothing but to record the witness based on his responses.
Meanwhile, People of Diebiri Kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of the state, yesterday, stormed the House of Assembly in Asaba to protest the nomination of Paul Bebenimibo as member of board of Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC).
Armed with placards of various inscriptions, the protesters accused the deputy governor of the state, Kingsley Utuaro, of deliberately marginalising them, and giving undue favour to his community, Gbaramatu.
They said going by the rotation formula which existed since the creation of DESOPADEC in 2006, it was the turn of Diebiri to produce the next representative of Ijaw oil producing communities on the board and not Gbaramatu where Bebenimibo and the deputy governor hail from.
“To show a simple narrative of this arrangement with existing facts, in 2006 when the commission was established, W. O. Okrika from Gbaramatu was the inaugural board chairman, while Ogulagha has the representative in the person of the late Francis Temewei.
“In 2011, Gbaramatu has Kingsley Otuaro (the present deputy governor) as representative. In 2015, when the law was amended, Egbema and Ogbe-Ijoh were represented by Pastor Philip Gbasin and Favour Izoukumor respectively.
“Based on this clear narrative and the production quantum theory/sharing formula arrangement of the Ijaw oil producing kingdoms, it is practically clear that it is now the turn of Diebiri to be on the board of DESOPADEC representing Ijaw ethnic nationality,” the community said.
But their call on the Assembly to step down the screening of Bebenimibo did not scale through, as the lawmakers during plenary screened and confirmed all the nominees into the DESOPADEC board.
Also screened during the plenary was the last set of commissioner-nominees by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for appointment as members of the state executive council.
Among the commissioners-designate is the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu.
Others, who were cleared include Matthew Tsekiri, Emma Amgbaduba, Ifeanyi Michael Egwunyenga, Mondi Ononye, Mrs. Gbubemi Ikoko, Christian Onogba, Mofe Joseph Pirah and Henry Sakpra.