THE Abuja division of the Court of Appeal yesterday upheld the judgment of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal which nullified the victory of Governor Nyesom Wike on October 24, 2915. It ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] to conduct fresh poll within 90 days.
In a unanimous decision, the five-man panel of judges held that Wike was not validly elected as governor and dismissed his appeal. However, he and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are heading to the Supreme Court.
In a notice of appeal dated November 3, 2015, Wike’s counsel, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), the governor raised 26 grounds of appeal seeking to set aside the judgment.
In its judgment, the panel of judges of the Court of Appeal presided over by Justice Dongban Mensen, yesterday affirmed the October 24, 2015 judgment and held that Wike was not validly elected as governor having failed to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the guidelines produced by INEC.
The court, after dismissing Wike’s appeal for lacking merit, ordered the INEC to conduct fresh elections for the office of the governor.
The panel knocked out the grounds of appeal, saying the appellant was never validly elected as the Governor of Rivers State . The court therefore, dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit and ordered fresh poll.
Although the PDP Chairman was not in court, but the All Progressives Congress (APC) applauded the verdict. APC’s lawyer, Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN) also hailed the judgment. However, PDP’s lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), announced plans to contest the judgment at the apex court.
With the Supreme Court as the terminal point for governorship election petitions, the last may not have been heard of the April 11, 2015 governorship election.
During the appeal, counsel to Dr. Dakuku Perterside and APC, Chief Akin Olujinmi [SAN] and Yusuf Ali (SAN) respectively moved to strike out some paragraphs of the appeal because they do not flow from the decision of the tribunal.
The motion was opposed by counsel to the appellants, Emmanuel Ukala [SAN], Wole Olanikpekun (SAN) and Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN]) for Wike, PDP and INEC respectively, who argued that the motion lacked merit and it should be dismissed.
On his part, Wike’s counsel challenged the competence of Dakuku’s petition on ground that it did not carry the stamp and seal of its lawyers contrary to the directives issued by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that all processes filed must carry the stamp and seal of counsel. -The Sun