Rivers Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, holding session in Abuja on Wednesday struck out a motion filed by Governor Nyesom Wike of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the eligibility of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Candidate, Dakuku Peterside to contest the April 2015 governorship election in Rivers.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Muazu Pindiga, ruled that Mr. Peterside met the 21-day notice for the APC primaries as provided in the Electoral Act and so qualified to contest the poll, contrary to the claims of the petitioner.
Governor Wike’s counsel, Emmanuel Ukala, had on July 22, moved a motion, alleging that the APC did not observe the 21 days mandatory notification of its candidate before the election. Mr. Ukala further told the tribunal that the convention/primary election which held on December 4 and produced the APC candidate to run for the 2015 general election was null and void. “The APC did not observe the 21 days Electoral Act declaration under which it is to notify INEC of its candidate before its primary elections. So, the document presented by APC on November 18, 2014 notifying INEC of its candidate does not in any way comply with the provisions of the electoral law,” he claimed.
Justice Pindiga also ruled that the tribunal had jurisdiction to entertain the petition saying that the tribunal was properly constituted by the president of the court of appeal.
The ( RSGEPT) tribunal had earlier on Monday dismissed an application by Governor Wike, seeking an order relocating its venue to Rivers. The three-man panel led by Justice Muazu Pindiga, in its ruling declared that the tribunal had power to sit in Abuja, following security challenges in the state.
The tribunal also held that the composition of the tribunal was not in any way defective and that the President of the Court of Appeal had the power to fix the venue of the tribunal. Mr. Pindiga added that the issue of accessibility and proximity of the venue for the tribunal cannot be decided without considering the security situation, earlier argued by the governor’s counsel, Emmanuel Ukala.
Governor Wike had prayed the tribunal to relocate the venue to Rivers, adding that the election was duly conducted in line with Section 285 of the Nigerian constitution.
By Olisemeka Obeche