The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal at its inaugural sitting in Abuja on Wednesday ordered that the state governor-elect, Mr Nyesom Wike of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) be served with court summon and other processes in the petition challenging his elections by substituted means.
The three-man tribunal led by Justice Muazu Pindiga granted the ruling following the prayer of Mr Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), the counsel to the petitioner, Dr Dakuku Peterside of the All Proggressives Congress (APC).
Akeredolu, at the inaugural sitting, had moved a motion ex-parte praying the tribunal to grant an order for substituted service on the Governor-elect because he had been evading service of court summon and other processes in the petition challenging his elections.
He claimed that the court bailiff had on several occasions visited the house of Wike to effect service on him but was on all the occasions turned back at the gate by agents of Wike upon discovery that he was a court bailiff.
Ruling on the petitioner’s counsel’s motion, Pindiga ordered that substituted service be effected on the defendant either by pasting the court process on his house gate or at the office of the PDP secretariat in Rivers state or in Abuja.
Peterside had approached the tribunal challenging the April 11 election victory of Wike on grounds of irregularities and massive rigging.
The petitioner had, apart from Wike, joined the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the PDP as co-defendants in the case.
Justice Pindiga had before the ruling promised that the tribunal would be just and fair to all parties.
The Tribunal Chairman said that members would endeavor to dispose of all cases within 180 days as stipulated by the provisions of the 1999 Constitutional, the 2010 Electoral Act, as amended, as well as the Practice Directions.
The panel said it would communicate the parties in the petition as to the next adjourned date.