Abuja – The Supreme Court on Friday gave reasons while Nyesom Wike was affirmed as the validly elected governor of Rivers.
Justice Mohammad Mahmud, who presided, held that the Governorship Electoral Petition Tribunal that handled the case swayed INEC guideline on the use of card readers for the election.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) also held that the tribunal also denied Wike fair hearing.
The Justice said: “While the court commends the introduction of card readers, the innovation, however, cannot supersede the voters register.
“The extant laws of the Federation provides for the use of voters register but the card reader irrespective of its importance does not have a place in any extant law of the land.
“Hence it said that the tribunal was wrong to base it judgment on non-compliance with the use of card readers,’’ Mahmud held.
On the issue of allegation of violence and irregularities during the election, Mahmud held that Dakuku Peterside, candidate of the APC in that election, failed to prove the allegations.
“The APC and its candidate, Mr Dakuku Peterside, were not able to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt because they failed to bring witnesses from all the polling units to substantiate the claims.
“For Peterside to prove non-accreditation, he ought to have tendered the voters register and then demonstrate it before the open court.
“We have aligned ourselves with the provision of the law that recognizes the voters register as key element to conduct any elections,’’ he said.
Mahmud, therefore, said the voter register could not be jettisoned for the card reader because it had a place in law while the card reader did not.
According to him, the tribunal and the lower court were unduly swayed by INEC’s directive on card reader usage during the election.
While noting that INEC had empower to make subsidiary regulations regarding conduct of election, Mahmud held that the regulations must not go contrary to constitutional provisions.
On the evidence of INEC staff who described the election as a sham and a mockery of democracy, the court held that his evidence could not take the place of testimonies of voters.
“We however discovered that under cross examination witness did not state whether he personally witnessed any violence at any polling unit, thereby making his evidence hearsay.
“The laws do not give room for arbitrary nullification of an election. A petitioner has to prove that there was substantial non-compliance in all polling units, this we did not see,’’ he said.
Mahmud further said that APC and Peterside failed to bring the issue within this parameter.
The CJN, however, commended the introduction of the card reader but urged the electoral body to approach the National Assembly to give its usage the status of law.
On that of Ogun state, the Court held that Amusu Ibikunle’s return as governor hinged on similar reasons adduced in the Rivers appeal.
NAN reports that Ibikunle contested the election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mahmud held that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Gbeyeoga Isiaka, failed to prove allegations of violence, irregularities and other related malpractices during the election. (NAN)