THE Apex Court has given it’s reasons for affirming the election of Nyesom wike as the validly elected governor of Rivers State.
The court blamed both the trial tribunal and the Court of Appeal for undue reliance on INEC guidelines on the use of the Card Reader in arriving at their judgments.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who read out the reasons for the judgment specifically, held that the trial tribunal and the lower appeal court were wrongly swayed by INEC guideline on the use of card readers for the election.
Besides, the apex court held that the judgment of the appeal court affirming the judgment of the elec- tion petition tribunal sacking Wike was a nullity be- cause the governor did not get fair hearing as the facts he presented were not considered by the Tribunal.
The court relying on the provisions of section 294 of the Constitution held that the signature of Suleiman Ambrosa, chairman of the tribunal on the judgment of the tribunal rendered the entire judgment invalid as he was only brought in mid-way i nto the hearing of the appeal.
Justice Kekere-Ekun therefore held that in the eye of the law, Justice Ambrosa who never participated in the hearing of the appeal abinitio was not a member of the tribunal and therefore the tribunal lacked the appropriate quorum and was improperly constituted.
Ambrosa replaced Mu’azu Pindiga who was re- moved in the middle of the proceedings of the appeal. On the issue of over-voting, the court held that the petitioners, Dr. Dakuku Peterside a nd his All Progres- sives Congress failed to prove the allegations by not calling sufficient witnesses from polling unit to poll- ing units, wards to wards and tendering only 11voter registers out of 23 local government areas in the state. Justice Kekere-Ekun held that the petitioners failed to prove allegations of non-compliance because they did not tender the voter’s register; statement of results in the appropriate forms which would show the num- ber of registered accredited voters and the number of the actual voters; and he did not relate each of the documents to the specific areas of his case in respect of which the documents were tendered and show that the figures representing the over-voting, if removed,
would result in his victory. She held that out of the 5,000 polling units, the petitioners only called few witnesses who were not poll- ing agents but coalition officers who never witness the voting process but depended on hearsay evidence.
On the evidence of INEC staff (Mr. Okoye), known as PW40 who described the election as a sham and a mockery of democracy, the court held that his evi- dence cannot take the place of voters as he himself admitted under cross examination that did not person- ally witness any violence but depended on hearsay.
The court added that the INEC report tendered by one of the witnesses from INEC and which the Tribu- nal and lower court relied on it their judgments, was a mere documentary hearsay since the witness was not the maker of the report.