Tribunal Grants Peterside Access To Inspect Election Material

The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja on Thursday reaffirmed its ex parte order made on June 11, 2015, granting permission to the All Progressives Congress and its candidate in the April 11, 2015 governorship election in the state, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, to inspect the electoral materials used for the poll.
Peterside and the APC had on May 3, 2015, filed their petition before the tribunal to challenge the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Nyemson Wike, in the poll.
The Justice Mu’azu Pindiga-led tribunal, in a ruling on Thursday, dismissed Wike’s application asking for the setting aside of the June 11, 2015 order.

Wike had argued that the tribunal’s order was wrongly made and asked that the tribunal could alternatively allow its agent to participate in the inspection to be undertaken by the petitioners.
He also asked the tribunal to vary the order in such a manner that the petitioners would not be allowed to make copies of some of the materials.
The PDP supported Wike’s application, while the Independent National Electoral Commission said it would await the outcome of the application to decide whether or not to obey the order for inspection.
Ruling on Thursday, Justice Pindiga rejected Wike’s application on the grounds that it lacked merit.
The judge noted that the order made on June 11 was in accordance with the provision of Section 151 of the Electoral Act and was directed at INEC, and not Wike.
The judge ruled, “There is the need for us to clarify the order we made on June 11. The order was made against INEC to allow the petitioners access, inspect and obtain the certified true copies of election materials in respect of the governorship election in the state.
“The order was made in accordance with the provision of Section 151 of the Electoral Act. The order still stands.”
He adjourned till July 22 for the commencement of the pre-hearing session in the petition.
During the hearing of Wike’s application on July 6, 2015, Peterside and the APC had accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of frustrating their bid to inspect the electoral materials used for the poll.
The petitioners’ lawyer, Akin Olujinmi (SAN) told the tribunal that INEC had continued to refuse his clients’ agents to inspect the election materials, a development which he described as a manifestation of an alliance between INEC, Wike and the PDP to frustrate the hearing of the petition.
But INEC, Wike and PDP, while justifying the refusal of INEC to allow the petitioners to inspect the electoral materials, argued that it would have been wrong for the electoral umpire to allow the inspection when Wike’s applications challenging the tribunal’s jurisdiction and the propriety of the June 11 order, were pending.
Olujinmi, in a counter-argument to Wike’s application, urged the tribunal to, among others, urged the tribunal to dismiss the application on the grounds that the order allowing the inspection of the electoral materials was not directed at him (Wike), but at INEC.
He said, “We have shown that INEC has not objected to the tribunal’s order and today, they have confessed before the tribunal that they disobeyed the order for inspection because the 2nd respondent (Wike) filed a motion seeking the setting aside of the order.
“Even the order for inspection was obtained and directed at INEC, but INEC has not formally complained to the tribunal with regard to that order. But they chose, on their own, to decide not to obey the order. This again shows the Shenanigan underlying this application to set aside the order for inspection.
“It is designed to legalise the conspiracy between the 1st and 2nd respondents (INEC and Wike) to frustrate the tribunal’s order. The law is that if the court is told that the order it made is being disparaged, dishonoured, disobeyed and disrespected, the court has a duty to take firm and decisive steps to ensure the order is obeyed.”
He also said Wike’s opposition to the tribunal’s order was fraught with contradiction as he (Wike), in one breath, argued that the order for the inspection poses threat to national security, he on the other hand, urged the tribunal to allow his agents participate in the inspection.

Olujinmi urged the tribunal to disregard Wike’s prayers on the ground that it acted within its powers under Section 151 of the Electoral Act, which empowered it to order INEC to allow any party to election petition to inspect materials used during the election being challenged.


Related Post