The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt on Monday upheld the re-election of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, as they struck out the appeal filed by the defeated Governorship Candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi.
Mr Victor Fingesi had approached the Court of Appeal after the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal on October 5, 2019 dismissed his petition challenging the re-election of Governor Wike, PDP Governorship Candidate during the 2019 Election.
The Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgment on Monday struck out the Appeal by Mr Victor Fingesi of ADP for lacking in merit. The Tribunal also said that the appeal was incompetent.
In a lead judgment, Justice H.N Ogunwimiji declared that the ADP Governorship Candidate failed to prove that the election was marred by irregularities.
Justice Ogunwimiji stated that the ADP Governorship Candidate couldn’t adduce evidence that would invalidate the elections of Governor Wike.
The Court of Appeal stated that he anyone who asserts, must lead relevant evidence to prove such allegations.
The Court also declared that INEC has the power to take action on elections when emergencies arise. The Appeal Court said that INEC derived such powers from Section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act.
The Court of Appeal 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 Idris 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 said that the Tribunal came to the conclusion that the Tribunal 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 declared that the petitioner’s complaint is vague and merely speculative.
The Tribunal further described ADP’s petition 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) Biokpomabo Awara, scored 173,859 votes.
Victor Fingesi of ADP polled a paltry 1860 votes during the 2019 Rivers State Governorship Election.