The Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed four out of the five petitions filed by other parties challenging the electoral victory of Nyesom Wike of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on the April 11 governorship election in Rivers state.
The only surviving petition challenging the declaration of Wike as the winner of the poll is the one filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Dakuku Peterside.
Three of the petitions filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Labour Party (LP) and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) were dismissed on technical grounds based on the application by Wike and the PDP on the ground that they didn’t comply with provisions of the Electoral Act, while the fourth petition brought by KOWA party (EPT/RV/GOV/05/2015) was voluntarily withdrawn by the petitioner, Kemka Elenwo, the Party’s governorship candidate in the election.
The Justice Mu’azu Pindiga-led tribunal struck the petition marked EPT/RV/GOV/03/2015 which was filed by Minaibim Harry of the Social Democratic Party on the grounds that the petition was incompetent. The tribunal held that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the petition since the two grounds on which it was anchored were defective because they were not in strict compliance with the provisions of Section 138(1) (a) to (d) of the Electoral Act.
Justice Pindiga, had on July 31, dismissed the petition by the Labour Party (EPT/RV/GOV/01/2015) which fielded Tonye Princewill in the April 11 election, on the technical ground that the party did not have a candidate for the election having not complied with the requirement under Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act (EA) 2010. It argued that the notice given by the petitioner to INEC of its intention to conduct a primary election from which the petitioner’s candidate purportedly emerged “is less than the mandatory 21 days required by Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act. “By implication, the effect of this non-compliance is that no valid primary election was conducted and held by the petitioner and its purported candidate,” Pindiga ruled.
The tribunal also found that the petitioner did not comply with the required procedure for applying for the issuance of pre-hearing notice, a default which rendered the petition inconsequential.
Another petition already dismissed by the Pindiga led tribunal on its technical incompetence is that of the All Progressive Grand Alliance and its candidate, Charles Harry, (EPT/RV/GOV/02/2015).
By Olisemeka Obeche