The Appeal Court in Lagos has upheld the election victory of Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, All Nigeria Latest News reports.
In a unanimous decision, the Court affirmed the election tribunal’s judgment, rejecting four distinct appeals lodged by Tonye Cole of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Beatrice Itubo of the Labour Party (LP), Innocent Ekwu of the Allied People’s Movement (APM), and Lulu Briggs Dumo of the Accord Party.
On Tuesday, Tonye Cole, present in the courtroom, sought the court’s intervention to instruct the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare him the winner of the March governorship election in Rivers.
All Nigeria Latest News had reported that the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had in October dismissed the petition of Cole challenging the election of Fubara as the governor of the state.
The tribunal had dismissed the petition, citing the withdrawal of the petition by the APC, the party sponsoring Tonye Cole. Dissatisfied with the tribunal’s decision, the APC candidate pursued the matter to the appellate court. On Tuesday, the appellate court upheld the tribunal’s ruling, affirming Fubara’s electoral victory in October.
Justice Ridwan Maiwada Abdullahi (absent), Justice Olabode Adegbehingbe, and Justice Bature Isa Gafa ruled that the cessation of APC’s involvement in the case did not render Cole’s petition invalid. The judges determined that the Tribunal made an error in striking out that particular aspect of the petition.
“A political party cannot compel a candidate to withdraw a petition neither can a candidate compel the party to withdraw.” Justice Adegbehingbe ruled.
Nevertheless, the court maintained that the appellants’ evidence fell short in substantiating claims of over-voting, disenfranchisement, and other alleged irregularities. Allegations related to fraud and Fubara’s eligibility to contest the election were dismissed due to unconvincing evidence. Tonye Cole raised concerns about irregularities and Fubara’s ongoing signing of documents as the State’s Accountant-General following his PDP nomination.
The court held that all the appellants failed to prove the allegation of non-compliance with the Electoral Act.