Rivers elec­tion: Wike opens de­fence at tri­bunal

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - By Ade­lanwa Bamg­boye

Gover­nor Nye­som Wike of Rivers State yesterday opened his de­fence be­fore the Rivers State Gov­er­nor­ship Elec­tion Pe­ti­tion Tri­bunal sit­ting in Abuja.

The All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) and its gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date, Dr. Dakuku Peter­side, are chal­leng­ing the va­lid­ity of Wike’s elec­tion as gover­nor on the plat­form of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP).

At the re­sumed hear­ing in the pe­ti­tion, Gover­nor Wike, through his coun­sel, Okey Wali (SAN) led a to­tal of seven wit­nesses in ev­i­dence, who cor­rob­o­rated the sub­mis­sions of the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (INEC) that ear­lier told the tri­bunal that the Rivers State gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion was peace­ful, suc­cess­ful and de­void of any form of vi­o­lence.

The wit­nesses, most of whom were re­tired civil ser­vants, who voted dur­ing the elec­tion, told the three-mem­ber panel of the tri­bunal that elec­tion ma­te­ri­als ar­rived at their var­i­ous polling units in good times and that card read­ers and vot­ers’ reg­is­ters were used for ac­cred­i­ta­tion of vot­ers for the elec­tion.

The wit­nesses, cut­ting across var­i­ous lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas of Rivers State told the tri­bunal that the elec­tion, as con­ducted by INEC was void of any form of vi­o­lence, in­tim­i­da­tion and that it was peace­ful.

They said there were no di­ver­sion of bal­lot pa­pers and snatch­ing of bal­lot pa­pers as al­leged by the pe­ti­tion­ers.

It will be re­called that INEC, in its ef­forts to prove to the tri­bunal that it con­ducted a free and fair elec­tion in Rivers state, called a to­tal of 16 wit­nesses and said it was sat­is­fied with the weight of ev­i­dence given by them at the tri­bunal.

Dr. Onyechi Ik­peazu (SAN), rep­re­sent­ing the elec­toral um­pire, told the three-mem­ber panel that INEC does not in­tend call­ing more wit­nesses and as such, ap­plied to close its case.

His ap­pli­ca­tion to close INEC’s case was not op­posed by coun­sel to the pe­ti­tion­ers and the panel, led by Jus­tice Suleiman Am­brosa.

Fur­ther hear­ing of the pe­ti­tion con­tin­ues to­day be­fore the tri­bunal.

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