RIVERS GUBER: JUSTICE AMBROSA-LED TRIBUNAL JUDGEMENT WILL NOT STAND THE TEST OF APPEAL (PRESS STATEMENT)
The Judgment of the Justice Ambrosa-led Tribunal in the petition filed by the defeated Rivers State APC Governorship Candidate, Mr Dakuku Peterside will not stand the test of Appeal because it was premised on the elevation of a mere INEC Press Statement above the Electoral Act which legally governs the electoral process in Nigeria.
It was on the premise of the INEC Press Statement that the Justice Ambrosa-led Tribunal opined that the use of both card reader accreditation and manual accreditation as done in Rivers State as well as other states was wrong. The tribunal failed to acknowledge the fact that the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos upheld the election of Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode with the clear declaration that the non-use or non functionality of the card reader cannot invalidate an election.
This position has been held in all other states where the tribunals declared that accreditation in an election was done both by the use of card readers and the manual process. Tribunal judgments on governorship elections in Nasarawa, Gombe, Ogun, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Lagos and Enugu States have been consistent on the accreditation process.
There was no single state where the tribunal nullified an election on the premise of INEC Press Statement on the card reader because the Electoral Act predates the introduction of the card reader as spelt out by the INEC Press Statement.
Furthermore, all the tribunals and the Supreme Court held that proving allegations of electoral irregularities in an election must be done on a polling unit by polling unit basis. In the case of Rivers State, the Justice Ambrosa-led Tribunal negated the legal process and used generic considerations of the hearsay testimonies of a few ward and local government collation agents who admitted in open court that they were not participants at the polling units where election took place to nullify a validly conducted election.
The judicial process of Appeal has been kick-started by Governor Nyesom Wike as his lawyers are completing the necessary process of Appeal. The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal erred in its judgment and this will be corrected at the Appellate Level. There cannot be a different set of rules for Rivers State, aside that which has been approved by the National Assembly and upheld by other tribunals and the Appeal Court. The Press Statement issued by INEC can never override the law made by the representatives of the Nigerian people.
In addition, the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had earlier thrown out the petitions of the Labour Party and that of the Social Democratic Party ( SDP) on the valid premise that they contravened the Electoral Act Section 85 (1) which stipulates that a political party must give INEC 21 Days Notice before conducting her primary. The tribunal held that the two political parties had no candidate for the election because they didn't conduct a valid governorship primary.
However, when the same issue of non compliance with the Electoral Act Section 85 ( 1 ) was raised against the Rivers State APC Governorship Candidate whose party failed to give INEC the mandatory 21 days notice, the Justice Ambrosa-led Tribunal shockingly jettisoned its earlier rulings on the same matter. This action by the Ambrosa-led Tribunal will also not stand the test of Appeal.
Governor Wike will not be distracted by this contrived setback as his mandate will be re - validated by the judicial appeal process in view of the obvious errors in the judgment of the Justice Ambrosa-led Tribunal.
Special Assistant ( Media ) to the Rivers State Governor.
October 26, 2015.
The New Rivers State has a team of prolific writers who will be introduced with time.