Expectations of the governorship aspirant of All Progressives Congress, APC, Hon. Dakuku Peterside becoming the governor of Rivers state dimmed yesterday as Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, granted evidence provided by him and APC, and declared them as lacking merit and substance.
Peterside had gone to the election tribunal seeking to upturn the election victory of the incumbent governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, alleging massive irregularities in the April 11 governorship elections.
However, PDP yesterday urged the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja to dismiss the petition filed by Rivers State APC Governorship Candidate, Mr Dakuku Peterside because it lacks merit and substance.
Also, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike called on the tribunal to dismiss the petition as the petitioner failed to prove the several unfounded allegations against his election on April 11.
This was as the Justice Suleiman Ambrosa-led Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal yesterday adjourned for judgment after counsels to the respondents and petitioners adopted their written addresses.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, also urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition, declaring that the burden of proof rests with the petitioner, who failed to discharge same before the court.
The APC, however, urged the tribunal to grant the reliefs sought in their petition.
In his submission, Counsel to PDP, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, noted that the petition is incompetent, pointing out that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to amend the petition of the APC, especially the outlandish reliefs already abandoned by the defeated political party.
He stated that, whilst the petitioner alleged several cases of violence and abduction of voters, the petitioner failed to lead any in that direction or call any witness to prove his claim.
Counsel to INEC, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, failed to prove his allegations polling unit by polling unit, noting that the few witnesses called by the petitioner were not participants in the election as directed by the Supreme Court.
He said the soldiers, mobile policemen and DSS operatives invited by the APC gave generic and contradictory evidence which have no relevance in relation to voting at the polling units, hence their testimonies are unreliable.
The INEC counsel declared that on the premise of the Supreme Court judgment in the case between Buhari and Obasanjo, INEC guidelines cannot supersede the Electoral Act, noting that accreditation is not restricted to card readers.
He added that the reports tendered by the Rivers State APC were rejected by INEC before the return of Governor Nyesom Wike was declared.
He said such reports will no longer be tenable.
In his submission, Counsel to Governor Wike, Mr Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, declared that the Rivers State APC Governorship Candidate, Mr Dakuku Peterside was not qualified to contest the April 11 election because his nomination contravened Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act.
He cited the case of Wike V Labour Party wherein the Appeal Court held that Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act is critical to the nomination of a candidate.
He said the petition is not properly before the tribunal because the Rivers State APC gubernatorial candidate was not duly nominated.
Ukala said that the failure of the petitioner to call Witnesses who conducted the election was fatal to his case.
He said out of the 5792 forms available for the conduct of governorship election, the Rivers State APC only tendered about 3000 forms contrary to the law which stated that all the forms be tendered.
In his submission, Counsel to the Rivers State APC, Chief Akin Olujimi , SAN, urged the tribunal to grant his petition, pointing out that the burden of proof rests with the respondents.
He said though the card readers do not replace the voters’ registers, they are vital to credible accreditation.


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