Supreme court upholds Wike’s election
The apex court, in a judgment delivered by a panel of three Justices yesterday upheld Wike’s appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, which reinstated the petition of the candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Biokpomabo Awara.
The Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal had earlier in October dismissed Awara’s petition and declared Wike winner of the poll, which was later challenged by the AAC candidate at the Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court, in its judgment delivered by Justice Inyang Okoro, ruled that hearing of an abandoned petition amounted to no other purpose than academic, adding that the hearing was an exercise in futility.
Earlier, the apex court also upheld Wike’s appeal against the appointment of Awara’s counsel with appeal number SC 1111/2019.
Speaking after the judgment, counsel to Wike, Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), noted that it was a landmark pronouncement by the Supreme Court.
“Across all the tribunals in the country, the issue has always been what is the relationship between the power of the tribunal to dismiss the petition that has been abandoned vis-a-vis the constitutional provision that says that interlocutory matters bothering on jurisdiction must wait until the final judgment.
“That is the issue that was resolved by the Supreme Court today, that when an issue is abandoned you don’t have to wait until the final judgment before the tribunal can pronounce on it; that you are dismissing this petition because it has been abandoned,” he said.
Orbih noted that by the two judgments, the matter filed by the AAC in rivers state has received its final nail in its coffin, adding that it was dead and buried forever.
Reacting to the judgment, counsel to AAC, Henry Bello said: “The first judgment has to do with abuse of process. At the tribunal in Port Harcourt, there was an appeal against a decision of the tribunal at the same time the same thing in the appeal was also sought to be rectified by the tribunal in another application.
“Our contention at the tribunal was that it was an abuse of court process and that it should be dismissed. The tribunal agreed with us and dismissed that. They went on appeal to the Court of Appeal in appeal number CA/PH/EPT/375/2019. The Court of Appeal disagreed with the tribunal that it was not an abuse of the court process.
“Today the Supreme Court has upheld our position that it was an abuse of court process. And moving forward, there was a decision of the Supreme Court on October 15 in appeal number 1120 where the Supreme Court upheld the appointment of my humble self as counsel to AAC.”
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