S’Court Dismisses Gov Wike’s Suit challenging Election Tribunal Sitting Relocation
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal filed by Gov Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the relocation of the State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting venue to Abuja, instead of the state capital, Port Harcourt.
Delivering judgment, Justice Amiru Sanusi held that the appeal lacked merit and that the decision of the President of the Court of Appeal to relocate the sitting of the tribunal was in order, since it was taken for security reasons.
Justice Sanusi said that President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bukachuwa was right in her decision that the tribunal should sit in Abuja instead of Port Harcourt for the protection of lives of the tribunal members and the spectators.
“But in the instant case, it was the President of the Court of Appeal that relocated the tribunal to Abuja because of insecurity, it was this situation that demanded for a doctrine of necessity which made the President of the Court to relocate the tribunal to Abuja to protect the lives of the members of the panel.
“I agree with the Court of Appeal that the President of the Court of Appeal is right in relocating the panel to Abuja.
“On the whole, I hold that the tribunal was properly constituted by the President of the Court of Appeal even without consultation with the Chief Judge of Rivers state or the President of the Customary Court.
“Even though, as at then, there was no Chief Judge, and there was no President of the Customary Court. The consultation here is not as to the venue of the sitting but to get judges in Rivers state that will be part of the various election petition tribunals.
“It is necessary to protect members of the panel from the theatre of war to where their lives will be secured.
“The President of the Court of Appeal, has the power and has judiciously utilized the power.
“The panel is properly constituted and it is not bereft of jurisdiction to hear the petition of the petitioner, the appeal lack merit and it is hereby dismissed”, he said.
The Street Journal recalls that another tribunal on Saturday nullified the April 11 governorship election which produced Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as Governor and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to conduct a fresh election within 90 days.
However, before the Saturday judgment by the tribunal, Wike’s appeal has been pending before the apex court wherein he was challenging the relocation of the tribunal to Abuja.
At the Court of Appeal, the panel of justices had upheld the relocation of the tribunal to Abuja on ground of insecurity in Rivers state.
Not satisfied, Wike had approached the apex court seeking for its order to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal and the ruling of the petition tribunal on the jurisdiction.
Sanusi also held that evidence abounded that there were security challenges prevailing in Rivers State as at the time the panel was constituted.
He further held that the court cannot be bound in the decision in Ibori’s case which was cited by the appellant.
The court further noted that in the Ibori case, it was not the President of the Court of Appeal that relocated the tribunal and that there was no situation of insecurity as at then.