The Rivers State Legislative Election Petition Tribunals on Monday nullified the election of 20 out of the 32 members of the state House of Assembly held by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), including that of the Speaker Owaji Ibani from Andoni constituency.
The four tribunals, in separate judgments, upheld the petitions by candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the election and ordered rerun in the affected constituencies.
The verdict came barely 48 hours the state’s governorship election petition tribunal voided the election of Governor Nyesom Wike and ordered a rerun.
On Monday, the tribunals upheld the petitioners’ evidence, particularly in relation to allegations of irregularities and violence among other electoral malpractices. The tribunals were of the view that the petitioners were, by the evidence led, able to prove their case.
The tribunals, however, upheld elections in 11 constituencies won by the PDP. They are Oyigbo, Etche 1, Omuma, Ogu-Bolo, PHALGA 1 and 3, ONELG 2, ABUA-Odual, Ahoada West, Ahoada East 2 and Emuoha.
The affected constituencies are Gokana, Eleme, Obio Akpor 1 and 2, Etche 2, Opobo/Nkoro and Akuku Toru 2, Others are Asari Toru 1 and 2, Bonny, Tai, Onelga 1, Degema, Ahoada East -1, Khana-1 and 2 , Ikwerre, PHALGA-2, Andoni.
Following the latest judicial loss, the PDP is now left with just 11 seats in the House, with APC clinging to one seat won by its candidate in the April 11 poll.
The affected lawmakers are, under the Electoral Act, entitled, within 21 days, to challenge the nullification of the elections at the appellate court.
The petition challenging the election in Okrika constituency, where the former First Lady, Patience Jonathan hails from, was earlier dismissed.
By Olisemeka Obeche