The Court of Appeal on Monday reserved ruling on three separate interlocutory appeals filed by Rivers State Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, challenging three rulings of the Rivers State Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja.
Wike, the candidate of the People’s Democratic party (PDP) in April 11 governorship election filed the appeals in a petition filed by Dr Dakuku Peterside, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who is seeking to nullify Wike’s election on grounds electoral malpractice.
Wike and PDP are praying the appellate court to set aside the ruling of the tribunal which held that it has power to sit in Abuja instead of Port-Harcourt, against the appellants’ earlier application challenging it.
The appellants have also urged the court to set aside the tribunal’s ruling which granted Peterside and APC permission to inspect the ballot papers, voter registers, and result sheets and other election materials used by INEC to conduct the election.
The appellants are also challenging the ruling that the tribunal was properly constituted by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to enable it to determine the proceedings on the petitions brought before it.
Justice Abubakar Yahaya, who led Monday’s panel of the Appeal Court, after listening to counsel to parties in the appeal, reserved judgment indefinitely and held that the date for ruling on the three appeals would be communicated to them in due course.
At Monday’s hearing, Wike’s counsel, Mr Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) urged the court to uphold his appeal on the ground that the tribunal was wrong in granting permission to inspect election materials without giving adequate notice to his clients.
Ukala also argued that the court of appeal should hold that the tribunal has no power to sit in Abuja but in Rivers State, where the election was conducted.
Mr Akin Olujinmi, counsel to Peterside and APC, argued that the tribunal was right in relocating its sitting to Abuja for security reasons urged the court to dismiss the appeals for lacking in merit.
He further contended that the tribunal was also right in granting permission to the petitioners to inspect all the materials used for the conducting the election.
Olujinmi also argued that the tribunal was properly constituted in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.