The Federal High Court Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by the African Action Congress (AAC) its governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Biokpomabo Awara and Dr. Ben Gurion John Peter seeking to invalidate the collation of Rivers governorship election results.
Instead, the court gave the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the nod to proceed with the collation of results as well as the state House of Assembly election.
The court, in a judgment that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, agreed with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that the court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
The court stressed that the suit being a post-election matter, could only be entertained by an election petition tribunal.
It held that the suit was an attempt by the plaintiffs to constitute the court to an election petition tribunal, and therefore upheld PDP’s preliminary objection and dismissed the suit for want of merit.
The plaintiffs had in their suit marked FHC/ ABJ/CS/303/2019, prayed the court for an order “restraining the 1st respondent (INEC) from further action in any manner whatsoever, including the counting/collation of votes, declaration and return of any candidate in the gubernatorial and houses of assembly election of 9th March, 2019, in Rivers state, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice”.
The AAC had based its prayer on section 36 of the 1999 constitution, section 26(5) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as well as order 46 rule 5 of the federal high court Civil Procedure Rules 2009.
They urged the court to abridge the time within which the parties should file their processes for the matter to be heard.
INEC, which had earlier stopped the entire election process in Rivers state, had declared its intention to resume the collation of the results in 17 local government areas of the state.
The INEC had hinged its decision on the report of a fact-finding committee it had constituted to investigate allegations that elections in Rivers state was fraught with manifest irregularities.
But the AAC candidate, who had called on the commission to declared him winner of the governorship election, sought an interim order to stop INEC from proceeding with the planned collation exercise.