Rivers Guber Poll: Tribunal Refuses APC’s Application To Scan Election Materials

Dakuku Peterside-Nyesom WikeThe Rivers Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja on Friday dismissed an application by the All Progressives Congress to scan and crop all the materials used for 2015 governorship election in the State.
The APC and its candidate in the April 11 governorship election, Dakuku Peterside, are seeking the nullification of the election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
APC and Mr. Peterside allege that the election was characterised by irregularities and fraudulent practices.
They sought to inspect all the materials used for the election to prove allegations of falsification and allotment of votes for Mr. Wike.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Muazu Pindiga, had on June 11 granted APC the leave to inspect the materials used in the election.
But the APC had also applied for cropping and scanning of election materials before the Court of Appeal which will be sitting on Monday, Aug. 31.
According to Mr. Pindiga, the fresh application by the APC is an abuse of the court process after it had ruled on a similar application on June11.
The APC had alleged that INEC, the 1st respondent, had denied it access to carry out the order of June 11.
The party explained that this necessitated a fresh application for scanning and cropping by forensic experts.
Mr. Pindiga said the tribunal, having gone through the submissions of the parties in the matter, holds that the fresh application by the APC had been overtaken by event.
“Although Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution provides for fair hearing of individual right, the motion for cropping, scanning of materials through forensic expert is hereby discountenanced and dismissed’’, Pindiga said.
The chairman held that the earlier ruling on inspection of election material still subsists.
Meanwhile, counsel to the APC, Akinlolu Olujimi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said his client had over 1000 witnesses.
Mr. Olujimi said his client would work to streamline the witnesses to 200 and suggested 35 minutes for examination for every of the star witnesses.
He suggested five minutes to examine other witnesses and five minutes for re-examination.
Mr. Olujimi also suggested that the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party nominate two persons and two from the petitioners for marking of the exhibits as the hearing continues.
Also, counsel to INEC, Obinna Oya, told the tribunal that they were willing to call 1373 witnesses to prove their case and that its client would streamline the witnesses to 400.
Mr. Oya proposed one hour for star witnesses, 30 minutes for other witnesses and 5 minutes for re-examination.
The Counsel to Mr. Wike, Oke Wali, said his client had 777 witnesses and proposed 30 minutes for each witness and one hour to cross-examine star witness.
Mr. Wali also asked for 10 days to call witnesses.
The PDP counsel, Chris Uche, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said his client had over 700 witnesses but intends to call only 200.
Mr. Uche proposed one hour for star witnesses, 35 minutes for cross-examination, five minutes for re-examination and five minutes for other witnesses.
The tribunal adjourned sitting to September 3 for commencement of hearing.
(NAN)

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