Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike yesterday at the State Governorship Election Petition tribunal failed stop the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, to challenge his election of April 11, 2015.
The APC and its governorship candidate in the state, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, had dragged the governor before the tribunal challenging his election on the ground that the election was marred by malpractices, irregularities and violence and called for the cancellation of the poll.
But last week, Governor Wike applied to the tribunal to quash the petition on the ground that it was not competent and that it did not comply with Section 18(1) of the Electoral Act 2010.
He also claimed that the petition was not competent because the petitioner failed to pay the mandatory N100.00 prehearing notice fee as demanded by law and that the petitioner having not paid the money had abandoned the petition in the eye of the law.
However, delivering the ruling on Wike’s application, the tribunal headed by Justice Muazu Pindiga dismissed it and held that the petition was competent and that it complied with Section 18(1) of the Electoral Act 2010.
The tribunal held that the payment of the pre-hearing notice fee was not compulsory and not enough ground to dismiss a petition as claimed by the governor.
The tribunal therefore upheld the petition and discountenanced the application for lack of merit and substance.
Another application was argued by Governor Wike to seek an order of the Tribunal to stay execution of the ruling the tribunal made on June 11 which permitted the APC and its candidate to inspect the materials used for the election.
Ruling in all the applications has been fixed for Wednesday.
Chief Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had on August 14, 2015 argued two separate applications seeking dismissal of the APC’s petition against the governor.
In the petition, the APC and its governorship candidate in Rivers state, Dr Dakuku Peterside are challenging the victory of Wike of the PDP at the tribunal.
Peterside who joined the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as co-defendant is alleging that the gubernatorial election of April 11, which brought Wike into power was marred by widespread electoral irregularities, violence and malpractices.
By the petition, APC and Peterside are specifically seeking nullification of the poll and for an order directing the conduct of a fresh one by INEC.
Chief Wike and PDP had prayed for an order of the tribunal dismissing the petition as being abandoned in consequence of non compliance with provisions of paragraph 18(1) of First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
The PDP counsel, Ken Njemanze, SAN, held that the petitioners failed to pay the necessary filing fees for the application made by their counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, for issuance of Form TF 007(application for pre-hearing session).
Payment of such fees is statutory and constitutes a condition precedent for the invocation of the jurisdiction of the tribunal, Njemanze held.
Similarly, Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, representing Wike also urged dismissal of the petition.
Ukala held that failure to comply with provisions of paragraph 18(1) of First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2010 as amended with regards to filing of pre-hearing notice “is fatal to the petition”.
Chief F.O Orbih SAN, who appeared for INEC adopted the submissions of Njemanze and Ukala.
But in opposition to the two separate motions, the petitioners’ counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, had urged the court to dismiss the applications for lacking in merit.
He said the respondents forgot that the petitioners made a security deposit of N500,000, adding that a tribunal can kick start a pre-hearing session by oral application.

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