Rivers Governor Wike loses again on appeal
• Rivers helmsman heads for Supreme Court
• APC says it’s ready for rerun
A FRESH hurdle yesterday came the way of Nyesom Wike in his bid to retain his position as the Rivers State governor who was validly elected in the last election.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, yesterday affirmed the judgment of the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which nullified the election of Wike as governor of the state.
In Wike’s reaction, he instructed his lawyers to proceed to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling which affirmed the verdict of the Election Tribunal ordering a fresh governorship election in the state.
But the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has commended the judgment. The APC chairman in the state, Davies Ikanya, told The Guardian that it was ready for a rerun and that Wike was just trying to remain in government by his going to the Supreme Court.
Ikanya said: “Let them go to the Supreme Court, the Appeal Court has upheld the judgment of the tribunal and I believe the Supreme Court will not be different because anywhere the truth is taken to, it will remain the truth.”
The APC boss added that the party was looking forward to participating in the rerun, stressing that God was with them. Ikanya said: “It was obvious that the election in Rivers State was marred with large-scale violence, and it has vindicated our position that there was complete neglect of the electoral act during the election. So we feel happy that the judiciary is living up to the expectation of the people, we now have more confidence in it as the last hope of the common man.”
Delivering its unanimous decision on Wike’s and the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) appeals, the five-man panel of the appellate court presided over by Justice M.B Dongban-Mensen threw them out for being bereft of any merit.
Justice Donghan-Messen affirmed the tribunal’s finding that the APC and its standard-bearer in the said polls, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, had adduced sufficient and compelling evidence to satisfy their claims that the election was conducted without substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The appellate court held that the failure to use the smart card reader and the flouting of the directive of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the mandatory use of the card reader machine by electoral officials was a direct violation of the Electoral Act.
The appellate court also ruled that the manual and guidelines issued by INEC for the conduct of the 2015 general election were in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. The court resolved all of seven grounds of appeal against Wike and his party and accordingly dismissed them.
In an electronic statement issued by Wike’s Special Assistant on Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, Wike said he “disagrees with the judgment, hence his decision to exhaust his constitutional right by challenging the Appeal Court’s judgment at the Supreme Court.”
The statement, in part, reads: “Governor Wike called on all his supporters and the people of Rivers State to remain calm as justice will be done at the end of day.
“He assured people of the state that he will use all constitutional processes to protect the mandate they freely bestowed on him, hence his decision to approach the Supreme Court for further adjudication.
“The governor said that he still remains the duly elected governor of Rivers State pending the determination of his appeal by the Supreme Court.
Governor Wike assured the people of Rivers State that all ongoing development projects will continue while his administration will continue to promote the security of lives and property across the state.”
The Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal had in October nullified the April 11 governorship polls. The tribunal led by Justice Suleiman Ambrosa had also ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election within 90 days.
Dissatisfied with the tribunal’s decision, Wike approached the Appeal Court, seeking to set aside the tribunal’s ruling. But following his dissatisfaction with the appellate court’s verdict, Wike has now resolved to take the matter to the Supreme Court.