The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, on Monday declared Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, duly elected, throwing out the appeal filed by the defeated governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) Mr. Victor Fingesi.
Governor Wike, standard bearer of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in the April 2019 governorship election, defeated Fingesi and the candidate of the African Alliance Congress (AAC) Biokpomabo Awara, at the Election Petition Tribunal.
Fingesi approached the Court of Appeal after losing at the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, which delivered judgment in the governor’s favour on October 5.
Ruling on his appeal on Monday, the Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment, struck out the appeal, describing it as lacking in merit” and “incompetent”.
In a lead judgment, Justice H.N Ogunwimiji declared that the ADP Governorship Candidate failed to prove his allegation that the election that Wike won was marred by irregularities.
Justice Ogunwimiji stated that the ADP governorship candidate couldn’t adduce evidence that would further his case and lead to invalidation of the election of Governor 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.
INEC Counsel, Dr Garba Tetengi (SAN) said that the appeal was struck out for incompetence.
Counsel to Rivers State Governor, Ike Udenna, 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 Governor Wike.
It will be recalled that the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal declared that the petitioner (ADP Governorship Candidate) 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 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 of African Alliance Congress (AAC), Mr. Biokpomabo Awara, scored 173,859 votes.
Victor Fingesi of ADP polled 1,860 votes during the 2019 Rivers State Governorship Election.