The Executive Governor of Rivers state, Chief Barr Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has vowed to proceed on appeal to retain the mandate of the people of Rivera state.
Chief Wike who made the declaration in a statement from his office, and made available to newsmen, yesterday said he, “it is with a profound sense of concern and responsibility, that I address you over the judgment of the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, delivered on Saturday, October 24, 2015, purportedly nullifying my election and return as the duly and lawfully elected Governor of our State.”
“Accordingly, I have since instructed my team of lawyers to immediately commence the appeal process and have the decision of the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal upturned for good.
“Being an implacable believer in the majesty of our judicial system as the last hope of the common man, I have implicit confidence in the ability of the appellate courts to correct the mistakes of the tribunal and right the wrong that has been done to our collective psyche and aspiration,” he stated.
The state chief executive stated that during the April 11 governorship elecetion, Rivers people in their millions joined the rest of the country and enthusiastically participated in electing their Governor and members of the State House of Assembly.
Explaining further, he noted that, apart from the reported malfunctioning of the card readers supplied by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which placed no advantage on any of the contestants, the election took place throughout ‘the state and was adjudged both by local and international organizations, the only process, recognized by the current Electoral Act, was used to accredit voters all over the country.
The Governor said, so far, he was not aware of any state where the election was postponed as a result of failure of card readers. Furthermore, he cited the case of Agbaje v Ambode in which the Court of Appeal clearly stated that the partial or non-use of card readers was not a basis for the cancellation of an election.
He regretted that against all legal odds and the grains of logic, the tribunal in its wisdom decided to accord undue legal weight to the straw of statements around the use or non-use of card readers to support its decision in the face of a hopelessly bad case of the Petitioners.
“As we all know, our judicial system is built on the doctrine of hierarchy of courts in which lower courts are bound by the decisions of courts higher in hierarchy on the same or similar issues. It is therefore strange for the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal to arrive at a decision that negates subsisting judgments of the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court.”
He also appealed to all his supporters across the state and beyond, to remain calm and go about their legitimate duties in a peaceful manner, as there was no course for alarm.
Chief Wike observed that by virtue of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, he is still their Governor and will remain their Governor until the exhaustive conclusion of the appeal process at the Supreme Court, assuring that their mandate, which they freely gave to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and his humble self, was intact, safe and secure, assuring that God will not allow their mandate to be a waste.
“I wish to thank the people of Rivers State for the unwavering support I have enjoyed from you, since the beginning of the struggle to this moment. I am highly humbled with the show of solidarity from all and sundry and in particular, the confidence in our ability to move the state forward, and the overwhelming satisfaction with what we are already doing as our government to reposition the state.
“I wish to further assure you that my team and I will not be distracted by this minor irritation. We shall remain focused on our vision and continue to deliver on our fundamental promises on improving security, massive development of infrastructure and socio-economic empowerment in Rivers State.
“Finally, be assured that by the special grace of God, we shall ultimately prevail over our adversaries, retain our mandate and return the glory to God Almighty our Maker and Refuge,” he stressed.
Wike had declared that the ungodly political gang-up in Abuja will never compel him to abandon the mandate given to him freely by Rivers people, stressing that the judgment of the tribunal was tantamount to a lower court overruling a superior court which is unknown to law.
Addressing thousands of his supporters who thronged the Port Harcourt International Airport on Saturday evening to welcome him back from Abuja, Governor Nyesom Wike urged them to remain peaceful as the tribunal’s judgment was simply the verdict of man which will give way to God’s verdict.
He said though by his training he is not expected to criticise a judge, the judgment by the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal negated earlier judgments given by the same tribunal wherein they upheld his election in petitions filed by the Labour Party and the Social Democratic Party, only to make a contradictory u-turn and nullify his election for the same reasons they upheld it in other petitions.
Governor Wike who was accompanied by the PDP Acting National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and Rivers leaders said: “ I have never seen a situation where a lower court overrules a higher court. The Court of Appeal has ruled on the issue of card reader which the tribunal based today’s judgment upon”.
The governor cited the fact that the Electoral Act does not recognise the card reader as stated by several tribunals and the Appeal Court.
He said: “Nobody will intimidate me to abandon the people of Rivers State. Justice will prevail at the end.
“I have a very good case and my lawyers are already compiling the appeal process. Therefore, Rivers people should remain peaceful as the good work already started will be completed by God’s grace”.
Also, a lawmaker in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Farah Dagogo, has called for calm both from supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and residents of the state at large.
Dagogo, who represents Degema constituency made the appeal while reacting to the outcome of the judgment, described the verdict of the Justice Suleiman Ambrosa-led panel as a miscarriage of justice.
He expressed optimism that the Court of Appeal will correct the seeming wrongs of the tribunal. He argued that the judgement negates the wishes of Rivers people, who according to him, massively voted for the PDP and Wike in the last general elections.
He said: “The judgement given by the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal is travesty of justice. For instance, even majority of lawyers and public commentators considered the judgement to be strange in the eyes of the law.
“Having said that, I want the good people of Rivers State, who massively voted for PDP and Governor Nyesom Wike in the last elections to remain calm and go about their lawful businesses.
“I can assure you that we will appeal this strange and obvious miscarriage of justice. We believe the Appeal Court will correct the wrongs of the election Tribunal.
“In the meantime, I urge all Rivers people and our teeming supporters to remain calm as the judgement will not stand the test of time.”