25th January, 2016
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Legal fireworks will begin at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 27 January as the Apex Court starts hearing on the appeal brought by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State,challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal which upheld the nullification of his election by the Election Petition Tribunal.
Governor Wike has filed 20 grounds of appeal to the Supreme Court, alleging that the election tribunal relied on hearsay and legally inadmissible evidence to arrive at its judgment as well as violated his constitutional right of fair hearing.
The Governor wants the Supreme Court to hold that the tribunal wrongly refused to follow the decision in Agbaje versus Ambode’s case, which stated that the use or non-use of card reader cannot be a ground for questioning or nullifying an election.
Governor Wike also wants the apex court to hold that the findings and conclusions of the Election Tribunal are perverse and not supported by any legally admissible evidence on record.
All the three Senators under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from Rivers state lost their seats at both the Election Tribunal and Appeal Courts and a rerun election was ordered within 90 days.
Also, the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja had in its various judgements ordered rerun in 22 Assembly constituencies out of the 32-member House that make up the Rivers State House of Assembly.
The PDP has maintained nine seats while the APC is left with just a seat, leaving the Assembly with a total of 10 legitimate members including the Speaker.
The law requires only 11 out 32-member house to be able to form a quorum necessary for any legislative seating. But so far, only 10 members are left and the House cannot form a quorum. Therefore, by law cannot the assembly members continue with their legislative functions at least for now.
The House of Assembly has adjourned indefinitely obviously in anticipation of the results of the rerun of elections as ordered by the Court of Appeal.