The Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Port Harcourt, on Saturday upheld the victory of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 9 election.
The tribunal, dismissed the petitions filed by the African Action Congress (AAC) Governorship candidate, Biokpomabo Awara, and African Democratic Party, (ADP’s) Victor Fingesi, which separately sought the nullification of the election
“We affirm the election of Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as duly elected,” the Tribunal declared in two separate judgments delivered over a period of seven hours.
It declared that the petitioners failed to prove their cases beyond reasonable doubt, and also failed to prove their allegations that the election was marred by violence and irregularities.
Justice K. B. Olawoyin who read the lead judgement declared that Governor Wike won in 19 out of the 21 Local Government Areas where elections took place, while the petitioner won in only two Local Government Areas.
Justice Olawoyin said Awara failed to call any witness to give credible evidence that there were malpractices that favoured Governor Wike, and did not also provide evidence on violence that affected the outcome of the election.
The tribunal declared that what was suspended was the collation of results for six Local Government Areas, and that at the time of the suspension of collation, INEC had concluded collation of results in 17 Local Government Areas.
According to the Tribunal, the defeated AAC Governorship Candidate tendered certified true copy of the State Governorship Election and the declaration of results by INEC, explaining that neither he nor any of his witnesses tendered any results different from what INEC declared.
The Tribunal further said Awara failed to call his polling unit agents to testify, even though he admitted that they were all alive. It added that prosecution Witnesses 3 to 19 who testified were alleged ward or Local Government agents, whose testimonies were found not to be credible.
The Tribunal added that even the results tendered by Awara had no names of polling unit agents, no signatures of polling units agents and had no INEC stamp, adding that the Tribunal therefore declared the said results inadmissible and of no value.
The Tribunal said further that Exhibits AA1 to A12 tendered by PW4 were inadmissible in evidence, because he was not the maker, adding that the documents were dumped on Tribunal without polling agents being called to give evidence.
As a result, the Tribunal expunged the Exhibits from its records.
The Tribunal held that most of the witnesses of the AAC were not credible because of their contradictory statements.
Documents tendered by an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Rivers Command, ACP Victor Onugbo, was also admitted as credible. It declared that Wike won the election.
Earlier, Justice Orjiako reading the judgment on the ADP’s Mr. Victor Fingesi petition, declared that he failed woefully to prove that Governor Wike did not score the highest number of lawful votes during the March 9, 2019 Governorship election.
The Tribunal declared Fingesi’s petition as vague, noting that first petitioner did not know the number of registered voters in the state. Orjiako said the Petitioner under cross-examination said he had no knowledge of the number of registered voters in his own polling unit in Okrika LGA.
The Tribunal declared that allegation that the winner (Wike) did not score the highest number of votes was an invitation to compare figures, which required the petitioner ought to honour and plead his own results and that of the winner for the court to cross check.
Justice Orjiako noted that there was no evidence of any alleged inflation of results, as the evidence remains vague, even as it held that the burden of proof is strictly on the petitioner and not on any weakness of the defence of the respondents.
The tribunal agreed with INEC that election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act. It said the testimonies of the witnesses of the ADP were mere hearsay, as most of them were not at the respective polling units where the elections were held.