•Accuses INEC of failure to assign case to counsel
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of conspiracy against it at the tribunal.
The party alleged that the Commission has refused to assign the defence of Rivers State governorship election to any of its counsel, apparently a bid to get the result cancelled.
The African Action Congress (AAC) candidate in the Rivers governorship election, Biokpomabo Awara, who came second in the election, with 179, 859 votes, against Governor Nyesom Wike’s 886, 264 votes, went to the Election Petition Tribunal; to challenge his defeat.
Rivers PDP expresed fear that when no defence is entered before the stipulated time frame, the tribunal would cancel the election results; for want of diligent defence.
Chairman, Rivers PDP, Elder Felix Obua, said INEC has “deliberately refused to assign the case to any lawyer, knowing that entering of defence is time barred.
“The plot is not to enter a defence until the expiration of the required time so that the tribunal would have a good excuse to cancel the governorship election.
“We are telling the whole world that INEC has not assign the defence of the result to any lawyer as we speak.”
Wike, the PDP candidate, won the governorship election with a margin of 712,405.
He recorded a resounding victory in 19, out of 21 local government areas of the state.
The AAC candidate only won two councils of Oyigbo and Akuku Toru.
INEC had first suspended all electoral processes in Rivers, following violence caused by the military’s activities. Soldiers were accused of conniving with politicians and attempted to hijack the process but voters resisted the plot.
The electoral body later lifted the suspension and continued the collation of election results, which was eventually concluded on April 3.
Reacting to his victory, then, Wike thanked PDP members and supporters, while paying tribute to those who lost their lives.
“This victory, first of all, is dedicated to the Almighty God. This victory is dedicated to Rivers’ people and those who died in the course of protecting democracy, in the course of protecting our votes; to make sure that the will of the people stand,” he said.
When contacted, INEC pleaded for more time, to enable the Commission get a clearer picture of the developments around Rivers State Governorship Election Appeal Tribunal.
In his reaction, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, told Daily Sun he would make the necessary confirmations on whether the electoral body has been officially served, and whether it has appointed external or internal solicitors to represent it at the tribunal when he resumes work, today.
Said Okoye: “I cannot categorically respond to this issue now because I have been on leave.
“When I resume on Monday, I will find out if the Commission has been officially served to appear before the tribunal and, if we have been served, I will find out if we have appointed an internal or external solicitor to represent the commission.
“I appeal that you give me time to find out everything concerning the issue on Monday (today).”