Rivers election: Wike opens defence at tribunal
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.