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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rivers gov poll: Wike closes defence, calls 24 witnesses

Nyesom Wike
ABUJA—Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, yesterday, concluded the defence of the April 11 governorship election that brought him to power, even as he called 24 witnesses that testified for him at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja.

Wike had through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, urged the Justice Suleiman Ambrosa-led panel to dismiss the petition that was lodged against his election by the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its governorship candidate in the state, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.

The petitioners are praying the tribunal to sack Wike and order a fresh governorship election in Rivers State.

In a bid to prove their allegation that the election was fraught with irregularities, the petitioners, produced 56 witnesses that testified against Wike before the tribunal.

Among those that testified that there was no election at various parts of the state included APC governorship candidate, Dr. Peterside.

Meanwhile, Wike, yesterday, dashed hope of the petitioners that he would appear before the tribunal to testify.

Counsel to the petitioners, Chief Akinolu Olujunmi, SAN, had earlier expressed his readiness to cross-examine Wike who is the 2nd respondent in the matter, in the event that he decided to mount the witness box like Peterside did on the day he closed his own case.

Unusual presence of armed operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, at the tribunal, had also fuelled the insinuation that Wike could appear as his own witness.

However, it became clear that Wike would not appear before the tribunal after his lawyer, Ukala, SAN, after tendering some documents as exhibits, told the tribunal that his client had closed his case.

With the closing of Wike’s case, it is now the turn of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to open its own defence of the election.

Counsel to the PDP, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, told the tribunal that his client would open its case on Thursday.

Though the six days period that was allotted to the party by the tribunal would have commenced today, Uche, SAN, elected to dedicate a day out of the period to the court.

Uche said: “We have seen how hard the tribunal is working, so we wish to donate our tomorrow, Wednesday, to the tribunal. We request that we should be allowed to commence our case on Thursday”.

Once the PDP, which is the last respondent in the matter concludes its defence, the tribunal will adjourn for the parties to adopt their written addresses, after which judgment will be delivered on the petition.

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