Rivers State Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, on Thursday told the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja that his challenger, Dr Dakuku Peterside, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the election was not qualified to run in the April 11 governorship election.
The Street Journal recalls that Dakuku and APC had approached the tribunal seeking to nullify Wike’s election on the ground that the election was marred by electoral irregularities, malpractices and violence.
Wike’s counsel, Mr Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, made the submission while adopting his final written address in the petition filed by Dakuku seeking the nullification of the governor’s victory at the polls.
According to Ukala, Dakuku’s nomination contradicted the provision of Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act, which is critical to the nomination of a candidate vying for election.
He contended that the nomination of Dakuku fell short of the the 21 days mandatory notification of the electoral act to notify INEC of its candidate before the election and was, therefore, a nullity.
The Governor’s counsel further argued that the petitioners’ failure to call proper witnesses who conducted the election was fatal to the case and urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lacking in merit.
In addition, he said, out of the 5,792 forms available for the conduct of the election, Dakuku and APC only tendered about 3000, which failed to meet the requirements of the 2010 Electoral Act, as amended.
However, Mr Akinlolu Olujimi (SAN), the petitioners’ counsel, urged the tribunal to discountenance the submission of the respondents’ counsel and grant his petition, stressing that the burden of proof also rested with the respondents.
Also, while adopting his final written address, Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petitioners’ petition, arguing that the burden of proof rested with the petitioners, who failed to discharge same before the tribunal.
He added that the few witnesses called by the petitioners, who were security agents, such as soldiers, mobile policemen and DSS operatives, did not vote in the polls and so could not have given any reliable account of what transpired at the polling units.