- Senator to appeal verdict
Damilola Oyedele and Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal has sacked the senator representing Rivers East in the National Assembly, Senator George Thompson Sekibo, from the Senate.
The tribunal ordered that Andrew Uchendu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) be sworn in as the winner of the senatorial election.
Sekibo was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The tribunalâ€™s decision to order the removal of the senator was predicated on the grounds that Uchendu won the lawful majority vote cast during the Rivers re-run legislative election.
The tribunal hinged its decision on substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines.
The tribunal also directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return it issued to Sekibo and issue a fresh Certificate of Return to Uchendu.
Following INECâ€™s declaration of Sekibo as winner of the last legislative re-run in Rivers State, Uchendu had approached the tribunal with a petition asking the court to declare him winner of the poll.
He had alleged that INEC failed to take into cognisance the results of some wards and polling units before declaring Sekibo the winner of the polls.
Meanwhile, Sekibo has vowed to appeal the verdict of the tribunal.
In a statement issued thursday, he said the planned appeal would justify his victory and restore his peopleâ€™s belief in democratic values.
â€œThe sincere wishes of patriotic Rivers people and people of Rivers East senatorial district who came out and vote overwhelmingly for the PDP would never be subverted as â€œthe truth cannot be defeated by shades of darkness,â€ he said.
Sekibo expressed confidence in the capacity of the judiciary to dispense justice and urged the electorate to remain steadfast in their support for him and the PDP
He described the development as a prize a commander pays for leading a battle, and thanked his numerous supporters for their prayers and support.
He urged them to remain calm and courageous as he expects the appeal panel to further appraise the facts of the matter and give the true judgement.