Thursday, July 23

Dakuku not eligible to run for governor — Wike

Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers on Wednesday told the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja that Mr Dakuku Peterside of All Progressive Congress (APC) had no eligibility to contest the 2015 governorship election.

The governor, who said this through his Counsel, Mr Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, that Peterside did not observe the INEC rules governing his nomination as the APC candidates.

“The APC did not observe the 21 days Electoral Act declaration under which it is to notify INEC of its candidate before its primary elections.

“So the document presented by APC on Nov. 18, 2014 notifying INEC of its candidate does not in any way go with the provisions of the electoral law.

“Time is needed to be given to INEC within 21 days of notice under Section 85(1) of the electoral act to produce a candidate to be held, failing which the convention is deemed to be unlawful and a nullity,’’ he said.

Ukala told the tribunal that the convention/primary elections held on Dec. 4 that produced the APC candidate to run for the 2015 general election was null and void.

He therefore urged the tribunal to strike out some paragraphs in the prayers of the petitioner as alternative, saying that some of the paragraphs had no basis.

Ukala also argued earlier that the President of the Court of Appeal did not consult anyone in the state before constituting members of the panel, adding that the tribunal had no territorial jurisdiction to sit in Abuja.

He also urged the tribunal to discountenance a document produced at the tribunal notifying INEC of the time the APC would conduct its convention and primary elections.

Ukala contended that the document ought to have been presented to the tribunal before this stage and urged the tribunal not to admit it as part of evidence.

“My argument is on admissibility of this document, a certified true copy of a document can under any circumstances be admitted from the bar but that is not a gateway for breaching all rules of procedure and letting in all manners of document.

“The law governing proceedings in election petition does not contemplate the admissibility of document, the document in question is supposed to be the property of the 2nd petitioner; that is the APC.

“The petitioner has been in the possession of the document, why didn’t he present it before now; based on the fact presented by him, the document is not relevant,’’ Ukala stressed.

Counsel to INEC, Mr Onyechi Ipeazu and counsels to the People’s Democratic Party, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe and Wole Olanipekun, SANs concurred with Ukala submission.

Counsel to Peterside, Mr Akin Olujimi, said his client was properly nominated by his party in accordance with the law of the electoral act.

According to Olujimi, the issue on whether his client was properly nominated can only be resolved at a trial and not on preliminary objection.

He said that a matter was settled when there was an issue of fact arising in a case, and that the tribunal could not in any way isolate the issue.

He said that Wike raised the issue of eligibility by way of locus standi and that such an issue could only come on cross petition.

He therefore urged the court to dismiss the application on grounds that it had no validity and that Section 138 of the Electoral Act backed up his argument.

According to Olujimi, the whole argument on territorial jurisdiction by all the respondents is base on misconception and misconstruction of Section 285(2) of the Constitution
“The error of the application is that they took the language of constitution wrongly and misinterpreted it.

“Once a tribunal is established, it is recognised up to the Appeal Court level, so the section of the Constitution quoted by my learned counsels is perfectly illustrated.

The tribunal therefore adjourned sitting to rule on eligibility of the APC candidate and the issue of territorial jurisdiction to July 29 and July 31.
It also adjourned sitting till July 23 to hear some other motions before it.

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