TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
The Court of Appel in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has upheld the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike, in the March 9, 2019, governorship poll.
It has also struck out the application filed by the defeated candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Victor Fengesi, in that election for lack of merit.
Fingesi had approached the Court of Appeal after the State Governorship Election Tribunal on October 5, 2019, dismissed his petition challenging the re-election of Governor Wike, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate during the 2019 election.
The five-member appeal panel, in a unanimous decision delivered by Justice H.N. Ogunwimiji, also said the appeal was incompetent
Justice Ogunwimiji declared that the ADP governorship candidate failed to prove that the election was marred by irregularities.
She stated that Fingesi could not produce evidence that would invalidate the election of Governor Wike.
The Court of Appeal further stated that anyone who asserts, must lead relevant evidence to prove such allegations.
Also, the court declared that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has the power to take action on elections when emergencies arise.
The Appeal Court stated that INEC derived such powers from Section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act.
It held that the petitioner lacked the locus standi to file the petition as earlier ruled by the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal.
Justices T.N Orji Ababua, U . Omyenenn, H.A Barka and I.B Idiris agreed with the lead judgement.
INEC counsel, Garba Tetengi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said that the appeal was struck out for incompetence.
Counsel for the state governor, Dike Udenna, said that the tribunal came to the conclusion that the was right to uphold the election of Governor Wike.
It would be recalled that the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal declared that the petitioner (ADP governorship candidate) failed to prove that Governor Wike did not score the highest number of lawful votes during the March 9, 2019, governorship election.
The tribunal then declared that the petitioner’s complaint was vague and merely speculative.
The tribunal further described ADP’s petition as “an Adventure to discover the non-existent.”
INEC on April 3, 2019 declared Governor Wike re-elected after he polled 886,264 votes, while his closest challenger of African Action Congress (AAC), Biokpomabo Awara, scored 173,859 votes.
Fingesi of ADP polled 1,860 votes during the 2019 state governorship election.