Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State has faulted the judgment of the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal, which nullified the victory of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The tribunal sitting in Abuja on Saturday, annulled the election of Wike, who ran on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct fresh election in the state within 90 days.
Mimiko, who is also the Chairman of PDP Governor’s Forum, faulted the three-man tribunal led by Justice Suleiman Ambrusa, on the grounds that its judgment was too hasty as it came less than 48 hours after both parties to the case submitted their written addresses.
He added that the tribunal did not wait for the judgment of the Supreme Court over the issue of its jurisdiction before passing the judgment.
He said, “Our mindset is that tribunal judgment can go either way, but the Rivers own is particularly embarrassing. We all know the circumstances surrounding the Rivers State tribunal. You recall now that for unjustifiable course that tribunal was not allowed to sit in Port Harcourt, it was taken to Abuja, and somewhere along the line the chairman of the Tribunal got changed.
“Now we challenge the jurisdiction of the Tribunal and it has gotten to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will give judgment in the next few days. The Abuja Tribunal continues to sit. On Thursday, nine written addresses were adopted.
“The adoption of the written addresses was done at 1pm on Thursday. In the course of that trial, the litigants; both plaintiffs and defendants called more than 100 witnesses, documents that were presented as exhibits were more than 1,000.
“We are talking of more than 100 witnesses and 1,000 documents were admitted, we are talking of nine written addresses. None of the addresses were less than 40 pages.
“The adoption was on Thursday, around 1pm and Friday around 2pm, barely under 24 hours, notice had been issued that judgment was ready, that judgment was given on Saturday. This sequence and turn of event assault the sensibilities of lawyers that really believe in justice.
“Remember the issue of jurisdiction which is fundamental is bound to give judgment this week. The question is why could the tribunal not have waited? Wait for the Supreme Court judgment which would naturally impact on their own outcome. Let the Supreme Court rules that they do not have jurisdiction ab initio”.
The Ondo governor expressed confidence that the PDP would get favourable judgment at the appellate court just as he said the party would soon meet to deliberate and take position on the election matter.
“However, if elections are held 100 times in Rivers State, PDP will still win, it is PDP’s territory”, Mimiko added.