The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja will on Saturday (today) deliver judgement in the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate in the April 11, 2015 election, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, challenging the election of Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The Justice Mohammed Ambrosa-led tribunal on Friday issued notice of the judgement barely 24 hours after parties adopted their final written addresses.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Wike winner of the election with 1,029,102 votes as against Peterside’s 124,896.
But the petitioners, through their petitions filed on May 3, urged the tribunal to nullify the election in the entire 23 local government areas of the state and order fresh one on the account of substantial non-compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act.
The petitioners, who called 56 witnesses within 10 days allotted to them, alleged various acts of non-compliance, including non-accreditation of voters, failure to use card reader, resort to manual accreditation, non-signing of forms EC8A by any party agent and signing of forms EC8A by only PDP agents.
They alleged that the poll was marred by unauthenticated alterations in Forms EC8A, issuance of ballot papers in excess of 100 leaves per booklet, one PDP collation agent signing for several wards, presiding officer signing for party agents, voter signing for party agent and absence of collation at ward collation centres and many more.
Counsel for the petitioners, Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), argued that the resort to manual accreditation lacked legal justification when INEC had directed that card reader should be exclusively used for accreditation.
He said there were only 293,072 accredited voters comprising those whose Permanent Voter Cards were read, but whose fingerprints could not be verified by the card reader, adding that Wike and other respondents failed to justify the total accreditation of 1,228,614 votes.
But the respondents – INEC, Wike and PDP – who jointly called 40 witnesses, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that it was constituted by unfounded allegations which the petitioners failed to establish.
Wike’s lawyer, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), argued that Peterside was not qualified to contest the April 11 election because he was sponsored by the APC in contravention of Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act.
Ukala argued that the petitioners failed to call witnesses who conducted the election, a development which he said was fatal to their case.
PDP’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said the petition was incompetent and the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to amend the petition which he said was replete with bogus reliefs.
INEC’s lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), said the petitioners failed to prove the alleged irregularities.