Ousted Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has instructed his lawyers to challenge Wednesday’s ruling of the Appeal Court on the Rivers governorship election petition tribunal which nullified his election at the Supreme Court.
Justice Dongban Mensem of the Court of Appeal Abuja Division, on Wednesday dismissed Wike’s appeal challenging the decision of the tribunal, declaring that the appeal brought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate lacked merit and substance and consequently dismissed it.
In the unanimous judgment of the panel of five justices, Justice Mensem ordered that “a fresh election be conducted by INEC in accordance with the Electoral Act 2010 and other relevant laws for the governorship race”.
The lead judge agreed with the tribunal that the Electoral Act was grossly violated and that the poll was manipulated when the card reader failed on election day.
The court disagreed with Wike that the use of the card reader was alien to the Electoral Act, adding that INEC was vested with powers to devise rules and regulations and use any equipment for the purpose of having free, fair and credible elections.
Justice Mensen also rejected the claim of Governor Wike that he was denied fair hearing because his interlocutory applications were heard along with the petition, adding that the fact that the applications were dealt with in the tribunal’s judgment had defeated the claim.
The appellate court also rejected the call for nullification of the tribunal’s judgment on the ground that a pre-trial conference was not conducted when a new chairman, Suleiman Ambrusa, took over, adding that it was established beyond doubt that Justice Muazu Pindiga, who first chaired the tribunal, conducted the pre-trial conference.
The tribunal held that Governor Wike failed in all the seven issues raised against the decision of the tribunal and therefore decided that the tribunal was in order in nullifying the election and ordering a fresh one.
But Governor Wike in a statement through his Special Assistant on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, faulted the judgment, vowing to challenge it at the Supreme Court. “He said constitutional processes would be applied to protect his mandate, adding that he remained the duly elected governor of Rivers State pending the determination of the Supreme Court”, the statement read in parts.
The embattled governor also assured the people of the state that all ongoing development projects would continue while his administration would still ensure the security of lives and property across the state.
By Olisemeka Obeche