I Remain Committed To Equally Representing All Deltans – Sheriff Oborevwori

Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori remains committed to representing all Deltans equally, irrespective of class, ethnicity, or creed.

Responding to a petition against Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori, the Chief Press Secretary to Honourable Speaker, Dennis Otu said that Oborevwori is committed to a peaceful and united Delta State, where every indigene and resident has the best opportunity to succeed.

“Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori is eminently qualified to contest the Delta State Governorship election, the statement said.

An excerpt is a full statement;

9th May 2022.

Senator Dr. Iyorchia Ayu
Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
PDP National Secretariat, Wadata Plaza,
Abuja.

Sir,

RE: PETITION AGAINST HON. SHERIFF OBOREVWORI

Since formally declaring his intention to run for the Office of Governor of Delta State, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori has continued to receive massive support from political leaders across board, stakeholders, diverse groups, and, most importantly, the majority of the good people of Delta State. The outpouring of goodwill and endorsements from all shades of opinion have rightfully positioned Oborevwori as the frontrunner for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) governorship slot in Delta State.

We are, therefore, not at all surprised by the epistle of lies and fabrications contained in an advertorial in the Vanguard of Friday, May 06, 2022, and signed by some mischief makers in the persons of Moses Ogege and Nathaniel Oromoni. It is the stock-in-trade of hack writers and political jobbers to peddle malicious information and vile propaganda in a bid to gain unfair advantage for their paymasters. Typical of these desperate power mongers, the advertorial was concocted with sinister intentions, spiced with misrepresentations, garnished with wicked distortions, and served on a platter of wild conjectures and speculations in a bid, albeit unsuccessfully, to tarnish the hard-earned reputation of our principal Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori.

Rt. Hon. Oborevwori’s traducers continue to engage in a dance of shame by rehashing the same spurious allegations that have been found to be baseless and without any merit by the South-South PDP Gubernatorial Screening Committee, which screened and cleared Oborevwori to contest the forthcoming primaries. The advertorial was littered with unfounded allegations of dishonesty concerning the Rt. Hon. Speaker’s name, educational qualifications, and date of birth. To be clear, none of these allegations is true. Additionally, none of the persons making these allegations has provided any shred of evidence that Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori is not constitutionally qualified to contest the Delta State Governorship election. The advertorial is not ordinarily deserving of a rejoinder, but for record purposes and the benefit of unsuspecting members of the public who may otherwise be deceived by these merchants of fake news, it is imperative that we set the records straight.

1. “FALSIFICATION OF AGE”

Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori was born on June 19, 1963, as clearly stated in his gubernatorial nomination form. The wrong date in his West African Examinations Council School Certificate Examination was properly corrected by an affidavit he deposed to in 2003. That is eighteen years ago! Certainly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the PDP saw no contradiction when he contested and won election into the Delta State House of Assembly in 2015 and 2019. Moreover, none of the petitioners has brought any evidence to show that the affidavit made on 17th June, 2003 is invalid. We wonder why it is suddenly an issue in 2022.

Similarly, the PDP South-South Gubernatorial Screening Committee comprising respected members of the party saw no falsification in his date of birth especially as there was a properly deposed affidavit affirming his birth date and, therefore, duly cleared him to contest the primaries. The Appeal Panel in Abuja has equally affirmed the decision of the Committee. It goes without saying that there can only be a case of falsification if there are contradictions in his claim, or a clever attempt to circumvent the law. Finally, it is curious – and inexplicable – that Oborevwori’s detractors are still making the nonsensical argument that it was improbable for him to have sat for his WAEC at the age of 36. There is no law in Nigeria that sets the age limit for sitting for WAEC or any examination. Until then, any person is free to pursue his academic study at such a time when he or she deems fit or considers convenient.

2. “MULTIPLE AND DIFFERENT NAMES IN CERTIFICATES SUBMITTED”

The Rt. Hon. Speaker’s given name at his birth was Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori. However, he was affectionately called Sheriff by his uncle, Johnson Oborevwori, a name by which he is now commonly and legally known. On 17th July 2003, Mr. Speaker deposed to an affidavit stating the change of his name from Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori to Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori. He also published the name change in the Nigerian Observer of 30th January 2004.

On 7th July 2011, Mr. Speaker also signed a Deed Poll changing his name from Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori to Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori. In the deed, he reconciled and affirmed that the following arrangements of his name belong to him– i.e., Oborevwori Francis, Oborevwori Orohwedor Francis, Oborevwori O. Francis, and Oborevwori Francis Sheriff Orohwedor. The Deed Poll has also been officially gazetted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Obviously, these dubious characters will stop at nothing to muddy the waters in their inordinate ambition for power. The purported confusion about Oborevwori’s certificates exists only in the minds of these hack writers and rabble rousers. We have copies of Oborevwori’s certificates and his given names, Francis Sheriff Orohwedor Oborevwori appear in all. Typical of most children born in Nigeria, multiple names are given to them and that was exactly the case with Sheriff. It is reasonable to infer that all the names did not fully appear in each of his certificates because of the disposition of whoever was responsible for writing them at a given time, as has happened to many people.

It is instructive that the Nigerian law envisaged this possibility as aforementioned and made sufficient provision for persons to make the necessary amends when necessary. This, Oborevwori has rightfully done by reconciling all the names as required by law. It is pertinent to point out that this practice is not peculiar to him. Anybody who doubts can pay a visit to our courts today and see the number of politicians who have deposed to affidavits reconciling their names to erase any doubts about their identity and prevent opponents from making political capital out of the order in which their names were written in their certificates. But even more significantly is the fact that these fake news proponents have still not proven that there is another Francis Oborevwori different from the Speaker. Secondly, they have been unable to disprove the authenticity of the results. Allegations of forgery is a very serious matter and the burden of proof rests squarely on the shoulders of the accusers.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Rt. Hon. Speaker’s full name is Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori. There are no comparable facts with the scenario that led to the disqualification of Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo during the Bayelsa State Governorship election. In that case, there were at least three different names in contention (as opposed to different arrangements of the same name). These were: Degi Biobragha; Adegi Brokumo; and Degi Biobarakuma Wangawa.

Furthermore, different names emerged from the candidate’s attempt to correct the anomalies, i.e., Biobarakuma Degi; Biobarakuma Wamagha Degi; and Biobarakuma Wanagha Degi-Eremienyo. Finally, the candidate gave another different name in his INEC Form CF001, i.e., Degi-Eremienyo Biobarakuma Wanaghwa (different from the previously stated Wangawa and Wanagha, which are not synonyms for each other).

To further their disinformation campaign, none of the allegations contained in the advertorial refers to the more recent Supreme Court decision in Dantiye v. APC (2021) 18 NWLR (Pt.1808) 381 (where the names in contention were Mohammed Musa Adamu, Mohammed Musa Adam, and Moh’d Musa Adam). There was also no reference to the most recent Supreme Court decision in Ibezim v. Elebeke (2022) 4 NWLR (Pt.1819) 1(where the names in contention were Ibezim Chukwuma Francis and Ibezim Chukwuma Frank). In both cases, the Supreme Court refused to follow its judgment in PDP v. Degi-Eremienyo (2021) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1781) 274 because there was a credible explanation for the name arrangements and a connection between the individual and the names. This is also the situation with the Rt. Hon. Speaker, Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori.

In Ibezim’s case, the Supreme Court stated that:

The decision of PDP & ors v. Degi-Eremienyo & Ors (2020) LPELR – 49734(SC), (2021) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1781) 274 relied on by the trial court for its finding above is not applicable here because in that case it was the case of the claimant that the various names on the documents in question did not belong to the owner of the documents, that he had no nexus with those names as he had claimed in his form and that this claim that they are his names is false.

Again, none of the petitioners against Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori has shown that the names they point to belong to a person other than the Speaker. None of the petitioners has debunked the nexus between the Speaker and the said names. Likewise, the petitioners have disingenuously hidden the fact that section 29(5) of the Electoral Act 2022 (the 2022 Act) has invalidated the effect of section 31(5) of the Electoral Act 2010 (the 2010 Act), on which the Bayelsa case was based.

3. “FAKE WAEC CERTIFICATE AND INCONSISTENCIES IN SECONDARY EDUCATION”

Again, the fact that you say something is fake does not make it so. You must prove it beyond reasonable doubt. Not by twisting facts to suit your whim and caprice. As someone said, you may be entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own set of facts. Facts are sacred. Despite overwhelming evidence in the public domain that the old Oghareki Grammar School was founded in 1970, Oborevwori’s traducers keep shamelessly pushing the propaganda that the school did not exist prior to 1999 when his WAEC certificate was issued. They claim that Oghareki Grammar School was founded in 2014, and therefore, Oborevwori’s certificate is “fake.”

For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to categorically state as follows:

i. The old Oghareki Grammar School that was established in 1970 was the one Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori obtained his WAEC certificate. It was founded as Baptist High School, Oghareki by the Baptist Church but the name of the school was later changed to Oghareki Grammar School.

ii. The old Oghareki Grammar School, Oghareki was among the forty schools handed over to the original owners (Missionaries/Churches) under the Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s administration. Consequently, in 2011, the school reverted to its old name of Baptist Missionary School, Oghareki, which is the present and subsisting name of the school.

iii. Following this reversal of name by the Baptist Church, the people of Oghareki Community lobbied the State government for the establishment of Oghareki Grammar School. The request of the community was granted by the Delta State Government under Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and a completely new Oghareki Grammar School was established in 2014. It is the signboard of this school that is being circulated on social media in a fraudulent attempt to discredit the school certificate of Oborevwori issued in 1999.

iv. As at the time Oborevwori obtained his School Certificate, the name of the school was Oghareki Grammar School, as rightly indicated in the certificate issued to him in 1999.

v. Both the old Oghareki Grammar School (now Baptist Missionary School), Oghareki, and the new Oghareki Grammar School founded in 2014, are still operational at different locations in Oghareki, Ethiope West Local Government Area, Delta State.

vi. The name of the principal of the erstwhile Oghareki Grammar School, now Baptist Missionary School, Oghareki, is Mr Jacob Jike. He is still alive and can be contacted by these devious characters if they have any conscience at all. The current Principal of Baptist Missionary School, Oghareki, and the State Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education can also be contacted for further clarification and verification.

vii. Some alumni of the old Oghareki Grammar School include former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, the former Managing Director of DESOPADEC and former National Treasurer of PDP, Chief Makinde Williams; a top PDP Chieftain in Ethiope West, Chief Emmanuel Ighomena; Chief Oghenedoro Ugbene; Mr. Azana Omo-Agege and Chief Dr. Henry Oghenechuko Ofa JP (President, Old Students Association of Old Oghareki Grammar School, Oghareki)

CONCLUSION

From the foregoing it is obvious that Oborevwori’s detractors have run out of ideas and are desperately clutching at every available straw for survival. Their desperation knows no bounds. But twisting facts, telling cheap lies, and engaging in vile propaganda will not save their principal from the defeat that awaits him at the primaries. Their only hope of winning the forthcoming PDP primaries rested primarily on blackmailing and pressuring the PDP to disqualify Oborevwori. That they would sink so low as to cast aspersions on the integrity of the esteemed members of the Douye Diri-led Gubernatorial Screening Committee speaks volumes of their mean and despicable character.

After failing to twist the hands of the Committee and the Appeal Panel to disqualify Oborevwori, they have now resorted to orchestrated campaigns of calumny against him in their last-ditch effort to confuse the populace and achieve their nefarious plans. They think it is their birthright to rule this state and appropriate our commonwealth. But they should cover their faces in shame because Deltans have since resolved that this state belongs to us all and we need a leader, not a snob, a consensus builder, not an out-of-touch elitist with I know-it-all attitude, and a man of the people, not an arrogant spoilt brat.

We call on our esteemed delegates and Deltans in general to be on guard against these unscrupulous persons who would stop at nothing in their unbridled quest for power. Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori remains committed to representing all Deltans equally, irrespective of class, ethnicity, or creed. Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori is committed to a peaceful and united Delta State, where every indigene and resident has the best opportunity to succeed. Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori is eminently qualified to contest the Delta State Governorship election.

SHERIFF ALL THE WAY TO GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ASABA, COME 2023!

God bless the Peoples’ Democratic Party,
God bless Delta State,
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Signed:
Mr. Dennis Otu
Chief Press Secretary to Honourable Speaker,
Delta State House of Assembly,
Asaba.

Cc.
1. Umar Damagum
Deputy National Chairman (North)
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

2. Taofeek Arapaja
Deputy National Chairman (South)
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

3. Senator Samuel Anyanwu
National Secretary
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja

4. Setoji Kosheodo
Deputy National Secretary
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

5. Ahmed Mohammed
National Treasurer
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

6. Hon. Umar Bature
National Organising Secretary
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

7. Daniel Woyegikuro
National Financial Secretary
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

8. Kamaldeen Ajibade
SAN National Legal Adviser
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

9. Okechukwu Daniel
National Auditor
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

10. Debo Ologunagba
National Publicity Secretary
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

11. Stella Effah-Attoe
National Women’s Leader
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

12. Mohammed Suleiman
Nationa Youth Leader
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

13. Dan Osi Orbih
Zonal Vice Chairman (South South)
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

14. Theophilus Daka Shan
Zonal Vice Chairman (North Central)
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

15. Olasoji Adagunodo
Zonal Vice Chairman (South West)
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

16. Ali Obasi Odefa
Zonal Vice Chairman (South East)
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

17. Emmanuel Nicovoe
Zonal Vice Chairman (North East)
Peoples’s Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

18. Dr Aminu Abdullahi
Zonal Caretaker Vice Chairman (North West)
Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)
Wadata Plaza, Abuja.