Wike Vs Dakuku: Tribunal Delivers Judgement Before OCT 30th


Petitioners at the Rivers State governorship election petition tribunal are now placed in a precarious situation as the tribunal yesterday compressed the time within which they must present their case.
With the development, the petitioners are now left with two days within which to call about 150 of its scheduled 200 witnesses having called about 50 within eight days of its earlier allotted 14 days as at last Saturday.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate at the last governorship election, Dakuku Peterside, are challenging the outcome of the election as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Nyesom Wike are listed as respondents before the tribunal.

Yesterday, the tribunal announced its intention to amend its earlier schedule of proceedings where petitioners were allocated 14 days to present their case, and the defendants given 10 days each.

Tribunal Chairman Justice Mohammed Ambrosa told parties at the resumption of proceedings yesterday that the tribunal was running out of time and needed to alter its earlier schedule, as contained in the report of its pre-hearing session dated 28, 2015.

By the schedule, the petitioners were allocated 14 days to conduct their case, while the respondents – INEC, Wike and PDP – were allocated 10 days each.

Yesterday, Justice Ambrosa noted that the tribunal would be left with 36 days from yesterday, after the deduction of Sallah holiday and other work-free days, with just a day to deliver its judgment, should it stick with its earlier schedule. He observed that, since he resumed after the redeployment of his predecessor, on September 3, he had consistently insisted that the tribunal was out of time.

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Justice Ambrosa reduced the petitioners’ days from 14 to 10 while each respondent’s earlier allocated 10 days were reduced to six.

Respondents lawyers: Onyechi Ikpeazu (for INEC), Okey Wali (for Wike) and Chris Uche (for PDP) opposed  the request by petitioners’ lawyer, Akin Olujinmi (SAN) to allow parties two additional days in view of the number of witnesses and documentary evidence yet to be presented by the petitioners.

Ikpeazu, Wali and Uche urged the tribunal not to change its mind having elected to reduce the number of days earlier allocated to parties by four days each. In the alternative, they requested the deduction of one day as against the two days suggested by the respondents’ lawyer.

Justice Ambrosa insited on the tribunal’s earlier directive, but suggested that the tribunal’s closing time would be elastic. He adjourned the commencement of the new schedule to today at 10 am.

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The petitioners had as at last Saturday called 47 witnesses, including an INEC official, four Army captains, two senior officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) and a member of the Action Alliance (AA) party.

The DSS officials, Benson Chukwuma and Godwin Mbah, who said they each led a team of DSS officials to monitor and provide security at the election, said although things began well at the inception of accreditation on April 11 , the electoral process was disrupted by hired hoodlums midway, thereby preventing proper voting and compilation of results.

Kamuzu Omiete Blankson, who said he acted as the Collation agent for his party (the AA), said the election was marred by violent sporadic shooting, burning of election materials and intimidation.

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Chukwuma, who testified as the petitioners’ 43rd witness and monitored in Ogu-Bolu LG, said the election was disrupted at a point following attack on election officials by hoodlums.



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