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Supreme Court Rejects Smart Card Reader; Says One Of The Reasons For Wike’s Election Affirmation

By Ayo Balogun, Abuja

ABUJA, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Non existence of the smart card reader in the electoral act, error in the ruling of the State’s Election Petition Tribunal and failure of the defendants to substantiate their petitions were the key reasons the Supreme Court Friday gave as reasons why it affirmed the election in which Nyesom Wike was declared as the Governor of Rivers State.

The election has been previously upturned by the Justice Suleiman Ambrosa-led lower court, as well as the Appeal court, on the accounts of large scale of violence; multiple voting and substantial non-compliance to the electoral act.

Following the rulings, Wike filed appeal to challenge the verdicts of lower courts, which ruled in favour of Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Governorship candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who also gave the leading judgment on Wike’s appeal about two weeks ago, held that while the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) suggested “irregularity”, yet, the petitioners would have proved allegation of non-compliance with the Electoral act of Saturday, April 11, 2015 poll by calling eyewitnesses from about 5,000 voting units in the state.

On the use of card reader, the jurists commended the innovation, still ruled that it did have basis in the country’s Electoral act, therefore was not enough as a replacement for the old manual accreditation.

Justice Kekere-Ekun also ruled that the alleged non-compliance by INEC’s officials to manual accreditation and guidelines during the poll was not a sufficient to invalidate the State’s Governorship election.

On allegation of violence, the apex Court judges held that Dr. Peterside and his party, the APC, could not discharge the burden placed on them to substantiate the allegations, which also included disenfranchisement of many eligible voters.

The Supreme court held that the ruling by the appellate court was wrong as the lower Tribunal failed to give Wike and his opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the right to fair hearing. It would be recalled Justice Kekere-Ekun ruled last two weeks that Wike’s appeal before the Supreme Court was “meritorious”.

The apex court ruled that Justice Ambrosa erred by giving judgment on some interlocutory applications earlier heard and reserved for ruling by the former tribunal panel headed by Justice Muazu Pidingi.

In its reason for quashing the appeal of Ogun State PDP Governorship candidate, Gboyega Isiaka against Governor Ibikunle Amosu, Justice Kumai Aka’ahs, who read the reasons, held that the appeal against Amosun’s election by Isiaka lacked merit.

The Supreme Court is expected to make public, its reasons why Edom Emmanuel election, despite alleged irregularities, was affirmed as Akwa Ibom State Governor.

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