Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal has dismissed the petition filed by the Rivers 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 state governorship tribunal, Justice J A Orjiako, yesterday dismissed the petition and confirmed Wike as the duly re-elected governor of Rivers State.
Orjiako also agreed with counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN); counsel to Wike, Chief Okey Wali (SAN), and counsel to Peoples Democratic Party (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, 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 would move on without any distraction in the 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 the state today is what everyone is happy about. It will not serve the interest of the state to continue this legal tussle.”
Counsel to Wike, 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, Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN), 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.
Counsel to PDP, Ken Njemanze (SAN), said he believed that wise counsel prevailed, hence the petitioner resolved to withdraw the petition.
“We, as respondents, did not oppose the application and we believe that it is a good development. It is good for the people of the state to move forward peacefully,” he said.
The PPP had asked the tribunal to nullify the Rivers State governorship election on the allegation 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, African Alliance Congress (AAC) Biokpomabo Awara, scored 173,859 votes.