The Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal is currently reading its judgement in the petition filed by the APC candidate Dakuku Peterside against the election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
PREMIUM TIMES brings you the live updates from the judgement of the three-member panel which is sitting in Abuja for security reasons.
10:41 The presiding judge reviewed the witnesses and stated that Peterside/APC called 56 witnesses and of the respondents: INEC-16; Wike-24; PDP-none. The panel states that the petitioners submitted three issues for determination.
10:46 INEC argued that the petitioners failed to prove their case polling unit by polling unit in line with Supreme Court earlier decisions.According to the panel, Governor Wike’s final written address on the petition is dated October 14.
10:55 The Tribunal is now reviewing Mr. Wike’s second major argument. Governor Wike’s first major argument is that most of the petitioners’ witnesses gave hearsay evidence, according to the tribunal. Governor Wike’s other major arguments, according to the tribunal, include: Petitioners are required to prove polling unit by polling unit but they only called few polling unit agents. Non-usage of card reader cannot be grounds for nullifying election.
Mr. Wike also argued that the election was free and fair and he was duly returned governor. He asked the tribunal to strike out the petition.
The tribunal states that PDP’s final address was on October 16.
11:02 The PDP argued that the Petitioners leveled allegations of crime against the military which was not joined as a party. The PDP also argued that non-usage of card reader cannot be grounds of nullification of election. PDP thus argued that the petitioners failed to prove their case and case should be struck out.
11:18 The petitioner, Mr. Peterside, argued that the card reader machine was made mandatory by INEC’s guideline and has the backing of the Electoral Act.
11:31 The tribunal adopts only one issue for determination – whether or not the petitioners have proved their case.
11:40 The Tribunal dismisses preliminary issues concerning the competence of the tribunal raised by the respondents. It is now dwelling on its sole issue for determination
11:49 The tribunal restates the petitioners’ allegations inculding poll being marred by intimidation of voters, non-availability of result sheets, snatching of electoral materials, non-collation of results at wards and LG levels etc.
11:50 The Tribunal states that the evidence of the petitioners’ witnesses is relevant and reliable.
11:54 The tribunal states that INEC has the power to insist on card readers. It is not open to anybody to act otherwise – tribunal
11:57 According to the tribunal, Exhibit A9 presented by the petitioners, which is a report by head of election monitoring team of INEC office in Rivers State, Charles Okoye, confirmed the allegations of the petitioners – Tribunal
11:58 The tribunal says card readers were introduced by INEC to ensure credibility and transparency
11:59 We don’t see any conflict between the introduction of card readers and the provisions of the Electoral Act, the tribunal states
11:59 A simple glance of the results (Exhibit A10) showed that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act, the tribunal states
12:01 According to the tribunal, an INEC witness said he was not aware of directive by the Commission on the exclusive use of card readers for accreditation.
12:05 According to the tribunal, INEC had directed that if the card reader failed the election should be postponed to the next day.
12:09 According to the tribunal, presiding officers called by the respondents as witnesses said they resorted to manual accreditation because the card reader failed. They said the were not aware of INEC’s directive to postpone the poll under such circumstances.
12:10 The tribunal states that the characters of voters called by Mr. Wike were impugned under cross-examination.
12:15 The voters- Mr. Wike’s witnesses- dodged questions under cross-examination and refused to answer questions on documents the petitioners confronted them with, the tribunal states
12:15 We are in agreement that the evidence of the witnesses of Wike and INEC is incredible and unreliable, Tribunal states
12:17 We are satisfied that the petitioners have proved their case, Tribunal states
12:18 We hereby order INEC to conduct fresh elections.
12:23 Tribunal sacks Nyseom Wike as Rivers Governor.
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