…Says It Lacks Merit, Incompetent
Governorship candidate of the African Democratic Party (ADP) in Rivers State, Victor Fingesi, has suffered another setback as the Governorship Election Appeal Panel in Port-Harcourt dismissed his appeal against re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike saying it lacks merit, and is incompetent.
Delivering judgement on Monday, lead judge of five-man panel, Justice Helen Ogunwimiji, upheld decision by Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which had dismissed Fingesi's petition against the re-election of Governor Wike in the 2019 governorship elections.
The lead judge said the appeal by the ADP governorship candidate failed to prove the 2019 governorship election was marred by irregularities saying anyone who makes allegations should have evidence to prove them.
The judge said Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had power to take action when emergencies arise according to Section 26(1) of the Electoral Act. The judgement which was unanimous was backed by other judges on the panel.
Counsel to ADP governorship candidate, Barrister Dolapo Attorni, said in an interview after the judgement that he agreed with the court on some issues and disagreed on other issues.
Asked about the next line of action, Barrister Attorni said it was for his client to decide whether to accept the judgment or appeal against it.
He said: “It was delivered this morning though it was against my client the appellant but I think on so many issues I would want to say I agree with the court (but) there are also issues I would also disagree but I think the court did what it had to do. It's for my client to decide whether to go on appeal or accept the judgement of the Court of Appeal”.
Counsel to Governor Wike, Barrister Ike Udenna, said the appeal panel gave its judgement based on conviction that the tribunal was right when it earlier dismissed the petition by the ADP governorship candidate.
“The appeal (panel) considered the totality of the case and came to the conclusion that the tribunal was right that the appellants were not able to prove there was anything wrong with the conduct of the election. So, the petition has again been dismissed. In other words, the Court of Appeal has affirmed the decision of the tribunal dismissing the petition,” he said.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, Dr. Garba Tetengi, said the appeal by the ADP governorship candidate was struck out because it was incompetent.
Wike won re-election in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Rivers State with total of 888,264 votes while governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Biokpomabo Awara, polled 173,859 votes.
ADP's governorship candidate, Victor Fingesi, polled 1,860 votes in the election and had first approached Election Petitions Tribunal to challenge Wike's victory in the election.