By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal has dismissed the petition filed by the state governorship candidate of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) in the 2019 election, Mr Clifford Edanuko, against the election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
Ruling on a motion filed by Edanuko, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice J A Orjiako, Tuesday dismissed the petition and confirmed Wike as the duly re-elected governor of Rivers State.
Orjiako also agreed with the counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN); counsel to Wike, Chief Okey Wali (SAN); and counsel to PDP, Ken Njamanze (SAN), that there were no illegal terms of withdrawal.
The tribunal ruled that petition number EPT/RS/GOV/O5/2015 stands dismissed, following the motion on notice filed by the petitioner on July 23 for the discontinuation of the matter.
Moving the motion for discontinuance, the counsel to the petitioner, K. Otehi, said he had instruction of the petitioner to withdraw the petition.
In an affidavit filed before the tribunal, he said the petitioner withdrew the petition so that governance will flow without any distraction in Rivers State.
He said: “We are all Rivers people. The petitioner is a Rivers man. He has looked at it and said let’s give peace a chance. The peace we are enjoying in Rivers State today is what everyone is happy about. It will not serve the interest of the state to continue this legal tussle.”
The counsel to Rivers State Governor, Chief Okey Wali (SAN), said it was gracious of the petitioner to withdraw the petition because his political party, PPP, is interested in the political stability of Rivers State.
In an interview, counsel to INEC, Mustapha, said all parties were in court to adopt their written addresses when the petitioner announced his withdrawal of the petition.
He said INEC did not oppose the withdrawal of the petition because it was in line with its submission to the tribunal.
He said the tribunal was right to have dismissed the petition.
The counsel to the PDP, Njemanze, said he believes that wise counsel prevailed, hence the petitioner’s resolve to withdraw the petition.
“We as respondents did not oppose that application and we believe that it is a good development. It is good for the people of Rivers State to move forward peacefully,” he said.
The PPP had asked the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal to nullify the governorship poll on the ground that it was unlawfully excluded from the poll by INEC.
With the dismissal of the PPP petition, only the petition filed by Mr Victor Fingesi of ADP is yet to be determined by the tribunal.
INEC had declared Wike re-elected after he polled 886,264 votes, while his closest challenger of African Alliance Congress (AAC) Biokpomabo Awara, scored 173,859 votes.