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How Wike Lost At Tribunal





Finally, the verdict is out. The Saturday, April 11, 2015 governorship poll in which Nyesom Wike of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) emerged governor was fraudulent and therefore null and void, the Rivers State governorship election tribunal sitting in Abuja, ruled yesterday.
Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the polls, Hon. Dakuku Peterside and his party had gone to court seeking the nullification of Wike’s victory.
After a protracted process, the tribunal in a far-reaching judgement which lasted for about three hours also ordered that fresh elections be held in the state within 10 days.
The verdict drew immediate applause from the APC and its supporters but the PDP and some of its leaders have rejected the outcome, insisting that the ruling was biased and skewed in favour of the ruling APC.
Governor Wike through his legal team led by Chief Okey Wali (SAN), former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has indicated interest to appeal the judgement. He has also said he remains the governor of Rivers state.
In his judgement, Justice Suleiman Ambrosa, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election with 90 days.
Peterside and the APC had approached the tribunal‎ challenging the election on grounds of irregularities.



Joined as respondents in the petition were INEC, Wike and PDP.
All the respondents had prayed the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
In its judgement which lasted for about three hours, the tribunal headed by Justice Suleiman Ambursa held ‎ that the said election made a mockery of democracy.
The tribunal further held that thuggery overran the state during the election and that Wike was wrongly declared winner because of non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
Wike’s fate was further sealed when the tribunal upheld some of the allegations by the petitioner, including intimidation, harassment, snatching of ballot boxes, ballot papers, lack of result sheets, late arrival of election materials, diversion of election materials, ballot stuffing, allocation of figures, non-collation of result and failure to use card readers, all of which the tribunal ruled were established by the petitioner.
The tribunal also held that the petitioner adduced credible evidence and documents to prove his allegation.
“The witnesses called by the respondent became unreliable during cross examination. They betrayed their character. Even INEC officials who came as witnesses at a point claimed ignorance of their own document.
“The second respondent was not duly elected,” the tribunal said, in its ruling.
How Wike Lost out
About 60 witnesses were called by Dakuku to prove his case before the tribunal.
Most of the witnesses called by the respondents in the case turned down the request by the counsel to the petitioner to read documentary evidence before the tribunal.
At some point while the trial lasted, most of the witnesses claimed that they were not the authors of the evidence before the tribunal and therefore, could not read them.
But one of the witnesses called in the course of the proceedings, from INEC’s monitoring unit, told the tribunal that the election was characterised by violence and irregularities.
During the adoption, INEC however defended the governorship election it conducted, urging the tribunal to uphold Wike’s election.
The commission’s counsel, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
He said that the petitioners, the APC and its governorship candidate, Peterside, had failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them to substantiate their claim that election did not take place in the state on April 11.
According to him, the petitioners failed to prove their allegations polling unit by polling unit.
He argued that the few witnesses called by the petitioners were not participants in the election and that their testimonies counted for nothing as already established by the Supreme Court in a plethora of cases.
Ikpeazu had also said that the soldiers, mobile policemen and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) invited by the APC gave generic and contradictory evidence which had no relevance in relation to voting at the polling units.
He had therefore on those grounds, urged the tribunal to hold that their testimonies were unreliable.
The INEC counsel declared that on the premise of the Supreme Court judgment in the case between Buhari and Obasanjo, INEC guidelines could not supersede the Electoral Act.
He further argued that the Electoral Act did not limit accreditation to card readers alone and added that the reports tendered by the Rivers State APC were rejected by INEC before Wike was returned as winner of the election. Such reports, according to him, were no longer tenable.
But the petitioners led by their counsel, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi, SAN, had urged the tribunal to grant the reliefs sought in their petition.
He asked the tribunal to hold that there was no election in Rivers on April 11, 2015.
He said the petitioners had discharged the burden of proof placed on them and that the onus had since shifted to the respondents.
Olujinmi further pointed out that though the card readers did not replace the voters register, they were vital to credible accreditation.
However, the PDP had urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lacking in merit and substance.
In his submission, another counsel to the PDP, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, had noted that the petition was incompetent and pointed out that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to amend the petition of the APC, especially the reliefs already abandoned by the party.
He asserted that whilst the petitioner alleged several cases of violence and abduction of voters, the petitioners failed to lead any evidence in that direction or call any witness to prove their claim.
Similarly, Wike called on the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the petitioners failed to prove the several allegations against his election on April 11, 2015.
His counsel, Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, declared that the Rivers state APC governorship candidate, Peterside, was not qualified to contest the April 11 election because his nomination contravened Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act.
He cited the case of Wike V Labour Party wherein the Appeal Court held that Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act is critical to the nomination of a candidate.
He said the petition was not properly before the tribunal because the Rivers state APC gubernatorial candidate was not duly nominated.
Ukala said that the failure of the petitioner to call witnesses who conducted the election was fatal to his case.
He said that out of the 5,792 forms available for the conduct of the governorship election, the Rivers state APC only tendered about 3,000, contrary to the law which states that all the forms be tendered.
Reacting to the judgment, counsel to the PDP, Chris Uche, SAN, said that the party will test the popularity of the judgment in the Court of Appeal and possibly, the Supreme Court.
“It was wrong of the tribunal to lay heavy weather on the use of card reader when INEC itself admitted that both card reader and manual can be used where there are challenges,” he stated.
Uche further faulted the judgment on the ground that the parties adopted their briefs in less than 48 hours, following which judgment was delivered.
In his reaction, Peterside said the people of Rivers were happy with the judgment and that it had given them an opportunity to vote for who they wanted.

Source: Leadership
About 60 witnesses were called by Dakuku to prove his case before the tribunal.
Most of the witnesses called by the respondents in the case turned down the request by the counsel to the petitioner to read documentary evidence before the tribunal.
At some point while the trial lasted, most of the witnesses claimed that they were not the authors of the evidence before the tribunal and therefore, could not read them.
But one of the witnesses called in the course of the proceedings, from INEC’s monitoring unit, told the tribunal that the election was characterised by violence and irregularities.
During the adoption, INEC however defended the governorship election it conducted, urging the tribunal to uphold Wike’s election.
The commission’s counsel, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
He said that the petitioners, the APC and its governorship candidate, Peterside, had failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them to substantiate their claim that election did not take place in the state on April 11.
According to him, the petitioners failed to prove their allegations polling unit by polling unit.
He argued that the few witnesses called by the petitioners were not participants in the election and that their testimonies counted for nothing as already established by the Supreme Court in a plethora of cases.
Ikpeazu had also said that the soldiers, mobile policemen and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) invited by the APC gave generic and contradictory evidence which had no relevance in relation to voting at the polling units.
He had therefore on those grounds, urged the tribunal to hold that their testimonies were unreliable.
The INEC counsel declared that on the premise of the Supreme Court judgment in the case between Buhari and Obasanjo, INEC guidelines could not supersede the Electoral Act.
He further argued that the Electoral Act did not limit accreditation to card readers alone and added that the reports tendered by the Rivers State APC were rejected by INEC before Wike was returned as winner of the election. Such reports, according to him, were no longer tenable.
But the petitioners led by their counsel, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi, SAN, had urged the tribunal to grant the reliefs sought in their petition.
He asked the tribunal to hold that there was no election in Rivers on April 11, 2015.
He said the petitioners had discharged the burden of proof placed on them and that the onus had since shifted to the respondents.
Olujinmi further pointed out that though the card readers did not replace the voters register, they were vital to credible accreditation.
However, the PDP had urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lacking in merit and substance.
In his submission, another counsel to the PDP, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, had noted that the petition was incompetent and pointed out that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to amend the petition of the APC, especially the reliefs already abandoned by the party.
He asserted that whilst the petitioner alleged several cases of violence and abduction of voters, the petitioners failed to lead any evidence in that direction or call any witness to prove their claim.
Similarly, Wike called on the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the petitioners failed to prove the several allegations against his election on April 11, 2015.
His counsel, Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, declared that the Rivers state APC governorship candidate, Peterside, was not qualified to contest the April 11 election because his nomination contravened Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act.
He cited the case of Wike V Labour Party wherein the Appeal Court held that Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act is critical to the nomination of a candidate.
He said the petition was not properly before the tribunal because the Rivers state APC gubernatorial candidate was not duly nominated.
Ukala said that the failure of the petitioner to call witnesses who conducted the election was fatal to his case.
He said that out of the 5,792 forms available for the conduct of the governorship election, the Rivers state APC only tendered about 3,000, contrary to the law which states that all the forms be tendered.
Reacting to the judgment, counsel to the PDP, Chris Uche, SAN, said that the party will test the popularity of the judgment in the Court of Appeal and possibly, the Supreme Court.
“It was wrong of the tribunal to lay heavy weather on the use of card reader when INEC itself admitted that both card reader and manual can be used where there are challenges,” he stated.
Uche further faulted the judgment on the ground that the parties adopted their briefs in less than 48 hours, following which judgment was delivered.
In his reaction, Peterside said the people of Rivers were happy with the judgment and that it had given them an opportunity to vote for who they wanted.
- See more at: http://www.naijaloaded.com.ng/2015/10/25/how-wike-lost-out-at-governorship-tribunal/#sthash.raGlP17q.dpuf
How Wike Lost At Tribunal Reviewed by jisieike samuel on October 25, 2015 Rating: 5

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