Friday, 23 October 2015

Rivers Governorship Election Tribunal Delivers Judgement Saturday, 24

Rivers Governorship Tribunal...

The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja will on Saturday deliver its judgment on the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate in the April 11, 2015 election, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, challenging the election of Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The Justice Mohammed Ambrosa-led tribunal on Friday issued notice of the judgment barely 24 hours after parties adopted their final written addresses on Thursday.

The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Wike winner of the election with 1,029,102 votes as against Peterside’s 124,896.

But the petitioners, through their petition filed on May 3, urged the tribunal to nullify the election in the entire 23 local government areas of the state and order fresh one on the account of alleged substantial non-compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act and Manual for Election Officers 2015.

The petitioners, who called 56 witnesses within 10 days allotted to them, alleged that various acts of non-compliance include “non-accreditation/improper accreditation, failure to use card reader, resort to manual accreditation, non-signing of forms EC8A by any party agent and signing of forms EC8A by only PDP agents.”

They are alleged that the poll was marred by unauthenticated alterations in Forms EC8A, issuance of ballot papers in excess of 100 leaves per booklet, one PDP collation agent signing for several wards, presiding officer signing for party agents, voter signing for party agent and absence of collation at ward collation centres and many more.

Counsel for the petitioners, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), argued that the resort to manual accreditation lacked legal justification when INEC had directed that card reader machine should be exclusively used for accreditation.

He argued that there were only 293,072 accredited voters comprising those whose Permanent Voter Cards were read, but whose fingerprints could not be verified by the card reader, Wike and other respondents failed to justify the total accreditation of total 1,228,614 votes.

But the respondents – INEC, Wike and PDP – who jointly called 40 witnesses, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that it was constituted by unfounded allegations which the petitioners failed to establish.

Wike’s lawyer, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), argued that Peterside was not qualified to contest the April 11 election because he was sponsored by the APC in contravention of Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act.

Ukala argued that the petitioners failed to call witnesses who conducted the election, a development which he said was fatal to their case.

PDP’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), maintained that the petition was incompetent and the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to amend the petition which he said was replete with some bogus and unproved prayers reliefs.

INEC’s lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), argued that the petitioners failed to prove the alleged irregularities and electoral irregularities polling unit by polling unit, which is the standard of proof set by the Supreme Court.