The Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal for Rivers on Saturday nullified the election of Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers for non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh governorship election in the state within 90 days.
The three-member tribunal, presided over by Justice Suleiman Ambursa, gave the orders in its judgment in a petition filed against the election of Wike by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate in the April 11 election in the state, Dr Dakuku Peterside.
In the judgment, which was read by Ambursa for about three hours, the tribunal held that the petitioners successfully proved their case that the election was conducted in total disregard to electoral guidelines.
Specifically, Ambursa said that the process of accreditation for the election was compromised with the use of incident forms rather than adherence to card reader.
It is the view of the tribunal that the election was held contrary to guidelines.
While we agree with the second respondent’s (Wike) position that card reader was just introduced, but the usage of the card reader is to complement voter register.
The election was in total disregard to guidelines, the issue of accreditation in election cannot be compromised.
Even, some of the witnesses of the respondents said they were not aware of the use of card reader for the election,’’ he said.
Ambursa said the tribunal also hinged its decision to annul the election on contradictory position by the second and third respondents (Wike and PDP).
According to him, some figures given by the witnesses of Wike contradicted the figures presented in the documents tendered by PDP while defending the case.
Ambursa also said that the tribunal was not impressed with the way the witnesses of the respondents presented themselves during cross examination by the petitioners.
Ambursa said some of the witnesses of the respondents, who had written their evidence and tendered them before the tribunal, claimed that they could not read when they were confronted with INEC results sheets during cross examination.
We are in agreement with the petitioners that the evidences presented by the respondents were unreliable.
The respondents on their part were unable to defend the allegations in the petition.
The petitioners have proved their case as required by the law that the second respondent was not validly elected ,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Counsel to the PDP, Chris Uche, (SAN) has said that the decision of the tribunal was unacceptable’’ and it would lodge an appeal.
Uche, who spoke to newsmen after the judgment, said by the provision of the law, the decision of the tribunal notwithstanding, the governor would remain in office pending the decision of the appeal court and the Supreme Court on the matter.
On his part, Mr Sikiru Oke, who spoke on behalf of Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi SAN, the lead counsel to APC and Peterside, said the tribunal had done justice by its decision.(NAN)