The Oasis Reporters
December 4, 2019
In a unanimous judgement, the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Monday, December 2, 2019, declared Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike duly elected, thus throwing out the appeal filed by the defeated governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party, ADP, Victor Fingesi.
Nyesom Wike was the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP gubernatorial flag bearer in the April 2019 governorship election. Yet, Fingesi and the candidate of the African Alliance Congress, AAC, Biokpomabo Awara, took their case to the Election Petition Tribunal in a challenge against INEC’s declaration of the governor, as winner.
Still dissatisfied with the verdict at the Tribunal, Victor Fingesi approached the Court of Appeal after his loss at the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, which upheld the victory of Governor Wike on October 5, 2019, he approached the Court of Appeal.
On Monday, the Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment, struck out the Appeal by Victor Fingesi, describing it as “lacking in merit” and “incompetent”.
In a lead judgment, H.N Ogunwimiji, the presiding judge declared that the ADP Governorship Candidate failed to prove his allegation that the election that Wike won was marred by irregularities.
Ogunwimiji stated that the ADP Governorship Candidate couldn’t adduce evidence that would further his case and lead to invalidation of the election of Wike in the March 9, 2019, governorship polls.
The Court of Appeal further stated that “anyone who asserts must lead relevant evidence to prove such allegations”.
Furthermore, the court affirmed that INEC has the power to take action on elections when emergencies arise, stressing that the election body derived such powers from Section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act.
It also held that the petitioner lacked the locus standi to file the petition as earlier ruled by the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal.
Justice T.N Orji Ababua, Justice U. Omyenenn, Justice H.A Barka and Justice I.B Idiris agreed with the lead judgment.
Garba Tetengi, the counsel to INEC said that the appeal was struck out for incompetence.
Ike Udenna, the counsel to Rivers State governor, in his reaction to the judgment, said that the Tribunal came to the right conclusion and that it was right to uphold the election of Wike.
It will be recalled that the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal declared that the petitioner (ADP Governorship Candidate) failed woefully to prove that Wike did not score the highest number of lawful votes during the March 9, 2019, Governorship election.
The Tribunal had described the ADP candidate’s complaint as “vague and merely speculative”, and further declared it as “An Adventure to discover the Non-Existent “.
INEC on April 3, 2019, declared Governor Wike re-elected after he polled 886,264 votes, while his closest challenger, African Alliance Congress, AAC, Biokpomabo Awara, scored 173,859 votes.
Victor Fingesi of ADP polled 1,860 votes during the 2019 Rivers State Governorship Election.