Rivers Election Petition: Court Reserves Judgement In Sekibo Appeal

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike (left), exchanging pleasantries with his Ekiti State counterpart, Mr Ayo Fayose, during the PDP Non -Elective National Convention in Abuja, last Saturday.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, last Monday, reserved judgement in an appeal brought by Senator George Thompson Sekibo, representing Rivers East Senatorial District at the National Assembly.
The court arrived at the decision after counsel representing parties in the suit adopted their respective written briefs for their arguments.
The Rivers State Election Petitions Tribunal had in a judgment delivered, last June, ordered the removal of Sekibo as the senator representing the people of Rivers East at the National Assembly.
In the judgement, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Goddy Anunihu, also ordered the immediate replacement of Sekibo with Andrew Uchendu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which the court held was the winner of the senatorial election.
The tribunal also directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return it issued to Sekibo and issue a fresh certificate of return to Uchendu.
The tribunal’s decision was predicated on the grounds that Uchendu won the lawful majority vote cast during the Rivers re-run legislative election.
Also, the tribunal had sighted substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines for arriving at the decision to order the removal of Sekibo from office.
But not satisfied with the judgment, Sekibo had approached the appellate court to upturn the decision of the tribunal.
The appeal with number: CA/A/EPT/487/2017, dated July 20, 2017, and filed same day by his Counsel, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), contains 23 grounds upon which the judgment of the tribunal was being challenged.
When the matter was mentioned, last Monday, both Sekibo and Uchendu were present in court.
While Donald Denwigwe (SAN) adopted and relied on his written brief for his argument, and urged the tribunal to allow the appeal, Counsel to the first respondent (Andrew Uchendu), Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), adopting and relying on his written addresses, urged the court to dismiss the appeal.
Similarly, Counsel to the second respondent (All Progressives Congress), Roland Otaru (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
However, counsel to the third and fourth respondents; Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not oppose the appeal.
Responding, the three-man panel headed by Justice Adamu Jauro, announced that judgment in the appeal would be given in a date to be communicated to parties in the matter.
The Tide gathered that Sekibo’s appeal was among the 15 appeals arising from the decision of the Rivers State Election Petitions Tribunal entertained, last Monday, by two courts in the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal.
The courts, however, reserved judgment in all the appeals to a date to be communicated to parties.