Thursday, 17 December 2015
Wike Lose Again! Apeal Court Upholds Tribunal Verdict, Nullifies Rivers Election (Photo)
The appellate court also upheld the decision of the State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which had earlier nullified Wike’s election on the same ground.
But the governor has indicated his intention to approach the Supreme Court to seek redress.
Delivering judgement in the appeal filed by Wike to challenge the nullification of his election, a Justice of the Appeal Court (JCA), Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, held that the appeal lacked merit and substance and consequently dismissed it.
In the unanimous judgement of a panel of five justices of the appellate court, Justice Dongban-Mensem ordered that a fresh election be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in conformity with the Electoral Act 2010 and other relevant laws for the governorship of the state.
Dongban -Mensem agreed with the tribunal that the Electoral Act was grossly violated and that the election was manipulated when the card reader failed on the election day.
The appellate court disagreed with Wike that the use of card reader was unknown to Electoral Act, adding that the electoral body was vested with enormous powers to fashion out rules and regulations and use any equipment for the purpose of having free, fair and credible elections.
Justice Dongban-Mensem also rejected the claim of 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 judgement had defeated the claim.
The Appellate Court also rejected the call for nullification of the tribunal’s judgement on the grounds 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.
According to Justice Dongban-Mensem, the pre-trial conference was not a personal matter but that of the tribunal and that since the tribunal had conducted the conference, there was no basis for any complaint.
On the request that the petition be dismissed because of the absence of the seal of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on it, the appellate court held that the ground was not sufficient enough to throw out the petition, adding that the absence of seal was an irregularity that can be rectified.
In the final analysis, the Appeal Court held that Wike failed in all the seven issues raised against the decision of the tribunal and therefore, held that the tribunal was in order in nullifying the election and ordering a fresh one.
Wike had filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja , asking it to set aside the judgement of the tribunal which nullified his election on October 24, 2015.
In the notice of appeal dated November 3, 2015 and filed by his lawyer, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), the governor raised 26 grounds of appeal upon which he sought to set aside the tribunal judgement. The governor challenged the entire judgment.
He also joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate in Rivers State, Dr. Dakuku Peterside and INEC and the PDP as respondents.
He had asked the court to allow the appeal and to make an order setting aside the judgement of the tribunal.
He further urged the Court of Appeal to make an “order striking out or dismissing the petition filed on May 3, 2015 by Peterside and the APC.”