The Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal has dismissed the petition filed by the governorship candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Victor Fingesi against the re-election of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
The tribunal described the petition as an adventure to discover the non-existent. It declared that in the end, nothing was discovered by the petitioner.
In a judgment read by the Tribunal Chairman, Justice K.A. Orjiako on Saturday, the Tribunal ruled that Fingesi of the ADP lacks the locus standi to file the petition.
The Tribunal held that inconsistent facts contained in the petition filed by the ADP Governorship Candidate makes it incompetent.
According to the Tribunal, the petitioner in his own petition, wrote that he was challenging the election of the first petitioner.
The Tribunal noted that an election petition must challenge the person returned as winner and not the petitioner.
Justice Orjiako stated that the Tribunal had earlier struck out the petition on the premise and the petitioner went on appeal.
The court noted that the Court of Appeal affirmed that the petitioner lacks locus standi in view of the paragraphs of his own petition.
He ruled: “This petition is hereby by struck out. The petitioner lacks the locus standi to file the petition.”
Determining the petition on its merit, the Tribunal declared that the petitioner failed woefully to prove that Governor Wike did not score the highest number of lawful votes during the March 9, 2019 Governorship election.
Justice Orjiako declared that the petitioner’s complaint is vague and merely speculative.
The Tribunal stated that the first petitioner did not know the number of registered voters in the state. The Tribunal further noted that the Petitioner under cross examination said he had no knowledge of the number of registered voters in his own polling unit in Okrika LGA.
The Tribunal declared an allegation that the winner did not score the highest number of votes is an invitation to compare figures. The Tribunal held that the petitioner ought to plead his own results and that of the winner for the court to cross check.
Justice Orjiako noted that there was no evidence of any alleged inflation of results, as the evidence remains vague.
The Tribunal held that the burden of proof is strictly on the petitioner and not on any weakness of the defence of the respondents.
The Tribunal agreed with INEC that election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.
The Tribunal examined the testimonies of the witnesses of the ADP were mere hearsay, since most of them were not at the respective polling units where elections took place.
The Tribunal described most of the witnesses of ADP as impostors who capitulated in the face of cross examination. The Tribunal examined the testimonies on a local Government by Local Government basis.
According to the Tribunal, despite the litany of documents pleaded by the petitioner, he could only tender Newspaper Reports.
The Tribunal said that INEC has the power to suspend an election, in line with Section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
The Tribunal further stated there is no evidence that after the suspension of the election, the petitioners refused to participate in the process. The Court declared that the petitioners have failed to adduce evidence to impugn the election of Governor Wike.
The Governorship Candidate of the Africa Action Congress, Biokpomabo Awara has lost his petition challenging the victory of Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Wine was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Awara had asked the tribunal to declare him winner of the March 9th 2019 governorship election in Rivers State or in the alternative nullify the election conducted by INEC for non compliance to the electoral rules and guidelines.
But the three man panel led by Justice Kingsley Ojiakor in a unanimous judgment, ruled that the first petitioner failed to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt.
It said that the exhibits, including results sheets and other documents tendered by the witnesses were not considered as Certified True Copies.
The tribunal also said Awara was not able to call in a single witness from each polling unit to show that he was leading in some local government areas as claimed in his petition.
The Tribunal further explained that the first petitioner failed to prove that INEC did not comply with the Electoral Act to declare Governor Wike winner and therefore dismissed the petition for lack of merit.
Speaking to newsmen, counsel to the petitioner, Emenike Ebete claimed that the judgment was a victory to his client following the fact that the matter was finally heard on its merit, just as he disclosed that his client will be ready to appeal the judgment.
“As far as we are concerned, this judgement is a victory to the first petitioner because we never thought that we would get to this stage.
“Before now it was dismissed on grounds that it was abandoned.
“We are certainly going to appeal this judgement because there are a lot of issues that were not addressed by the Tribunal. We are working towards making what happened in Rivers state a Law.
“That INEC can suspend an election and come back to declare results after 3weeks? We want the Court to tell us that INEC has the power to do so,” he said.
On his part, counsel to Governor Nyesom Wike, Ferdinard Orbih, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria said the judgment means that the victory of Governor had gotten judicial stamp.
Reports that the Tribunal directed Awara to pay three hundred thousand naira each as cost to Governor Wike, PDP and INEC.