The Supreme Court today struck out a suit filed by Mr Nyesom Wike, the Rivers State Governor challenging the sitting of the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal out of jurisdiction and particular in Abuja. Wike had in his suit contended that Abuja had no jurisdiction over matters that transpired in Rivers State.
Only last Saturday, the Tribunal in its judgement ruled that there was no election in the state and ordered a fresh election. Also on Monday, the Tribunal nullified the elections of 20 members of the House of Assembly, including its Speaker.
This morning, the seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court headed by Justice John Fabiyi, held that the panel that sacked Wike was properly constituted. The panel further insisted that the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Zulkachuwa acted within her powers when she relocated the tribunal from Rivers State to Abuja.
Justice Amiru Sanusi, while reading the judgement said, “evidence abound that there was serious security challenges prevailing in Rivers State which therefore called for the doctrine of necessity to be adopted”.
The apex court also maintained that the relocation of the tribunal to Abuja was to safeguard the lives of the Chairman and members of the panel that heard the petition that was lodged against Wike by the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its governorship candidate in Rivers State, Dr. Dakuku Peterside. “I am unable to see any merit in this appeal and I hereby dismiss it without any order as to cost”, Justice Sanusi held. All the other members of the apex court panel also concurred with the lead verdict.
Security concerns have necessitated recent tribunal sittings to be moved to Abuja. This include, Akwa Ibom, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno in which Rivers state also was not an exemption. The Appeal court had earlier ruled that the tribunal could sit in Abuja to handle Rivers election petitions.