The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt has upheld the re-election of Rivers state governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, by striking out the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi, who was defeated in the March 9 election.
The ADP candidate 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, during the March 9 governorship poll.
But Monday, the Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgment struck out the appeal by Mr Fingesi for lacking in merit thus affirming the position of the tribunal that the appeal was incompetent.
Justice H.N Ogunwimiji, in a lead judgement declared that the ADP governorship candidate could not prove his claims that the election was manipulated and also marred by irregularities.
According to the judge the ADP and its candidate couldn’t present any evidence to their claims nor were able to show reasons why the re-election of Governor Wike should not stand.
Accordingly, 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.
It therefore held that the petitioner lacked the locus standi to file the petition as earlier ruled by the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal.
The Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal had declared that the petitioner the ADP governorship candidate failed to prove that Governor Wike did not score the highest number of lawful votes during the March 9, 2019 governorship election.
The tribunal had declared that the petitioner’s complaint is vague and merely speculative and went on to describe 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, while Victor Fingesi of ADP polled a paltry 1860 votes during the 2019 Rivers State Governorship Election.