The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja on Tuesday rejected an application for stay of its proceedings by Governor Nyesom Wike and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party.
The Justice Mohammed Ambros-led tribunal rejected the contention by Wike and the PDP that a ruling of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, had asked it to stay proceedings until it delivered all reserved rulings on all the respondents’ motions, which are seeking the dismissal of the petitioners’ petition.
Wike’s election as governor in the April 11, 2015 poll is being challenged at the tribunal by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.
The proceedings of the tribunal were stalled on Monday because Wike and the PDP through their lawyers, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) and Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), asked the tribunal to halt its proceedings because of the Court of Appeal’s judgment.
The tribunal had however adjourned till Tuesday requesting that it be served with the Court of Appeal’s ruling in order to decide on what step to take next.
Ukala and Adedipe on Tuesday maintained that the tribunal must stay proceedings in order to comply with the Court of Appeal’s judgment.
But, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ambrosa, after studying the Court of Appeal’s judgment on Tuesday observed that as against the request by Wike and PDP, the Court of Appeal in its decision delivered last Saturday, did not order stay of proceedings of the tribunal.
Justice Ambrosa said what the appellate court ordered, instead, was accelerated hearing in the petition.
The tribunal chairman read the content of the ruling aloud during the Tuesday’s proceedings.
According to what Justice Ambrosa read, the appeal by the Wike and the PDP on which the appellate court delivered judgment succeeded in part, to the effect that the tribunal was ordered “to resolve the issue of the locus standi of the petitioners and the issue of service of the originating processes raised by the appellants, but which were not decided.”
It also ordered the tribunal to accord the case accelerated hearing.
After reading the ruling, Justice Ambrosa promised to comply with the Court of Appeal’s ruling that it must rule on motions on which it had taken arguments but he called on the petitioners to continue their case for the time being.
The petitioners were to continue their case by calling more of their witnesses when PDP’s lawyer, Adedipe, opposed the move, asking the tribunal to first complying with the appellate court’s ruling first before continuing hearing the petition.
In response, the petitioners’ lawyer, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), urged the tribunal to ignore Adedipe’s contention and continue with the trial.
Olujinmi asked anybody dissatisfied with the tribunal’s directive to go on appeal.
In a ruling Justice Ambrosa said the tribunal, having chosen to proceed with trial, would not reverse itself.
The petitioners later called some witnesses, among whom, was Clinton Ochonma, before proceedings were adjourned till Wednesday.