The National and State Assembly Election Tribunal in Port Harcourt has uphold the election of the Senator Representing Rivers West Senatorial District, Distinguished Senator Betty Okagua Apiafi.
The tribunal also dismissed the Petition filed by the Social Democratic Party SDP candidate for Rivers West Senatorial District Dighobu Obaghama against the victory of Senator Betty Apiafi of the PDP for failure of his lawyer to participate in the pretrial hearing process in the matter.
The three man panel, headed by Justice F. K Kiagama held that the petitioner is not interested in participating in the pretrial hearing process by taking three adjournments during the process.
Justice Kiagama held that the three times adjournment shows the unseriousness and an attempt to delay the matter by the petitioner.
The court awarded a cost of Four Hundred Thousand Naira each to the first (Appiafy) and second respondents (PDP) and Two Hundred Thousand Naira (INEC) on the third respondents.
The court therefore upheld the victory of Senator Betty Apiafi on the said petition by the SDP candidate.
Speaking with newsmen immediately after the ruling, Counsel for Senator Betty Apiafi, I. A Adenipe, lauded the court for the ruling, adding that the penalty for continued seeking for adjournment is loss of the petition.
Hr said: “The petition was dismissed for failure of the petitioner to comply with paragraph 18 (11) of the rules of the tribunal. The petitioner had in three times seek for adjournment of the petition and that prompted the dismissal of the said petition by the candidate of SDP against Senator Betty Appiafy”.
On his part, counsel for the SDP, Somina Elekima said the Tribunal was right in its decision.
Elekima who is also Acting State Legal Adviser to SDP said ” He (Obaghama) has gone to court without the authorisation or consent of the party, so the party has approached the court for his name to be struck out. He has resisted that approach which took sometime and finally it was ruled today and struck out.
“Upon the struck out, the matter was ripe for prehearing, unfortunately his counsel were not ready for prehearing after asking for adjournment for two times earlier and by the rules of the tribunal, the court had no option but to struch put the petition.”
On his part, Collins Dike lawyer to SDP Candidate Obaghama said the Tribunal did not hear his application on merit, promising his client review the Tribunals decision.