Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Port Harcourt has dismissed a petition filed by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), Mr Clifford Edanuko, against the election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
Ruling on a motion filed by the petitioner, Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice J.A. Orjiako, dismissed the petition and confirmed Governor Wike as the duly re-elected Governor of Rivers State.
Justice Orjiako also agreed with counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abdulhakeem Mustapha, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), counsel for Governor Wike, Okey Wali, SAN, and counsel for the PDP Ken Njamanze, SAN, that there were no illegal terms of withdrawal.
The Tribunal ruled that Petition Number EPT/RS/GOV/O5/2015 stands dismissed, following the motion on notice filed by the petitioner on July 23, 2019, for the discontinuation of the matter.
Moving the motion for discontinuance, counsel for the petitioner, E. Paul MasiChi, said he had instruction of the petitioner to withdraw the petition.
In an affidavit filed before the Tribunal, MasiChi said that the petitioner withdrew the petition so that governance would flow without any distraction in the state.
“We are all Rivers people. The petitioner is a Rivers man. He has looked at it and said ‘let’s give peace a chance’. The peace we are enjoying in Rivers State today is what everyone is happy about. It will not serve the interest of the state to continue this legal tussle,” he stated.
Wali, counsel for the state governor, said that it was gracious of the petitioner to withdraw the petition because his political party (PPP) was interested in the political stability of the state.
In an interview, counsel for the INEC, Mustapha, said that all parties were in court to adopt their written addresses when the petitioner announced his withdrawal of the petition.
He said the INEC did not oppose the withdrawal of the petition because it was in line with its submission to the Tribunal. He said that the Tribunal was right to have dismissed the petition.
Counsel for the PDP, Njamanze, said that he believed that wise counsel prevailed, leading the petitioner resolved to withdraw his suit.
“We, as respondents, did not oppose that application and we believe that it is a good development. It is good for the people of Rivers State to move forward peacefully,” he said.
The PPP had asked the Tribunal to nullify the March 9 governorship election in Rivers on the allegation that it was unlawfully excluded from the poll by the INEC.
With the dismissal of the PPP’s petition, only the petition filed by Mr Victor Fingesi of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) is yet to be determined by the Tribunal.
The INEC had previously 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.