The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has dismissed the motion of Governor Nyesom Wike, challenging the relocation of the tribunal sitting to Abuja from Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Wike, through his counsel, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN) had prayed the tribunal to relocate to Port Harcourt in compliance with provisions of section 258.
Justice Muazu Pindga, the tribunal chairman, while delivering ruling, held that the tribunal had not violated any provision of the law since the relocation to Abuja was based on security reasons.
Pindiga also held that the motion filed by Wike and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lacked merit and substance.
The Governor and his party had filed an application challenging the powers of the President of the Court of Appeal to allow the tribunal to sit in Abuja instead of the state where the election in dispute was conducted.
They claimed that the sitting of the tribunal in Abuja was in breach of section 285 (2) of the 1999 Constitution and provisions of the Electoral Act 2010.
Pindiga also disagreed with the claim of the Governor on proximity and accessibility as the two major factors that ought to have determined the venue of the sitting.
The tribunal ruled that the issues of proximity and accessibility cannot be determined in the absence of security of the tribunal members and litigants.
It further said that the President of the Appeal Court acted within the ambit of the law which lays emphasis on the necessity of a conducive atmosphere for the tribunal to hold proceedings.
Dr. Dakuku Peterside, candidate of All Progressive Congress (APC) in the last gubernatorial election had dragged Wike, PDP and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the tribunal challenging Wike’s election as governor.
He alleged that the election was marred with irregularities, fraud, violence and malpractices and urged the tribunal to cancel the polls and order INEC to conduct a fresh one.