TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal has dismissed the petition filed by the defeated governorship candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi, against the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The tribunal described the petition as an adventure to discover the non-existent. It declared that in the end, nothing was discovered by the petitioner.
In a judgement read by the tribunal chairman, Justice Kingsley Orjiako, the tribunal ruled that Fingesi lacked the locus standi to file the petition.
The tribunal held that inconsistent facts contained in the petition filed by the ADP governorship candidate made it incompetent.
According to the tribunal, the petitioner in his own petition, wrote that he was challenging the election of the first petitioner.
The tribunal noted that an election petition must challenge the person returned as winner and not the petitioner.
Justice Orjiako stated that the tribunal had earlier struck out the petition on the premise and the petitioner went on appeal.
The court noted that the Court of Appeal affirmed that the petitioner lacked locus standi in view of the paragraphs of his own petition.
He ruled: “This petition is hereby struck out. The petitioner lacks the locus standi to file the petition”.
Determining the petition on its merit, the tribunal declared that the petitioner failed woefully to prove that Governor Wike did not score the highest number of lawful votes during the March 9, 2019 governorship election.
Justice Orjiako declared that the petitioner’s complaint was vague and merely speculative.
The tribunal stated that the first petitioner did not know the number of registered voters in the state.
He further noted that the petitioner, under cross examination, said he had no knowledge of the number of registered voters in his own polling unit in Okrika LGA.
The tribunal declared an allegation that the winner did not score the highest number of votes, was an invitation to compare figures.
The tribunal held that the petitioner ought to plead his own results and that of the winner for the court to cross check.
Justice Orjiako noted that there was no evidence of any alleged inflation of results, as the evidence remained vague.
Also, the tribunal held that the burden of proof is strictly on the petitioner and not on any weakness of the defence of the respondents.
The tribunal agreed with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.
The tribunal examined the testimonies of the witnesses of the ADP were mere hearsay, since most of them were not at the respective polling units where elections took place.
The tribunal described most of the witnesses of ADP as impostors, who capitulated in the face of cross-examination. It examined the testimonies on a local government by local government basis.
According to the tribunal, despite the litany of documents pleaded by the petitioner, he could only tender newspaper reports.
The tribunal said that INEC has the power to suspend an election, in line with Section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
The tribunal further stated there was no evidence that after the suspension of the election, the petitioners refused to participate in the process.
The court, however, declared that the petitioners had failed to adduce evidence to impugn the election of Governor Wike.