The Court of Appeal has struck out the appeal of Nyesom Wike, seeking a dismissal of the judgment of the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal which sacked him as governor of the state.
The five-man panel of the appellate court held that Mr Wike was not validly elected as governor, having failed to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the electoral guidelines laid down by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The panel dismissed Mr Wike’s appeal for lacking in merit and ordered INEC to conduct fresh elections for the office of the Governor of Rivers State.
Plans To Contest
Governor Wike, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) predicated his appeal on seven grounds.
He asked the Appeal Court to, among other issues, determine whether the Tribunal’s failure to turn down his preliminary objection did not amount to denying him an opportunity to fair hearing.
He urged the court to overturn the verdict of the Tribunal on the ground that he was denied pre-hearing conference.
Mr Wike also asked the court to set aside the verdict of the Tribunal on the ground that Mr Peterside Dakuku of the All Progressives Congress (APC) lacked the locus standi to challenge the outcome of the election in addition to his claim that the Tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to hear the petition.
At the hearing on Wednesday, one after the other, the five man appeal panel knocked out the grounds of appeal saying Mr Wike was never validly elected as the Governor of Rivers State.
Although the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party was not in court, the chairman of the APC in Rivers State, Dr Davis Ikanya, applauded the verdict of the Appeal Court.
Lawyer to the APC, Emeka Ngige, also applauded the verdict of the court.
After the judgement was delivered, the counsel to the PDP and Mr Wike, Mr Ifedao Adedipe, announced plans to contest the verdict of the court.
With the Supreme Court as the terminal point for governorship election petitions, the last may not have been heard of the April 11, 2015 governorship election in rivers state.
The Election Petition Tribunal headed by Justice Suleiman Ambrosa had, in a judgment on October 24 voided Wike’s election and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election in the state.
The Tribunal in its ruling stated that the characters of voters called by Mr Wike were impugned under cross-examination and that it agreed that the evidence of the witnesses of Wike and INEC was incredible and unreliable.