Law News
Wike closes defence with 24 witnesses, refuses to testify

The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike closed his case with 24 witnesses at the state Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja on Tuesday.

Wike, who contested the April 11, 2015 poll as the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, did not attend the Tuesday’s proceedings to the disappointment of some of his supporters and the petitioners’ side who had expected that the governor would wrap up his defence with his personal testimony on Tuesday.

An unusual crowd comprising both the loyalists of the governor and the opposition All Progressives Congress had besieged the court in expectation that Wike would appear in court to testify on the last day of his defence, as the APC candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, did on the day he closed his own case.

But it only became clear that Wike would not appear before the tribunal on Tuesday when his lawyer, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), shortly after tendering some documents as exhibits, announced to the Justice Mohammed Ambrosa-led tribunal that the governor’s case had been closed.

Ukala did not call additional witnesses on Tuesday. Wike, within the six days allotted to him, called a total of 24 witnesses.

INEC, the first respondent to the petition, through its counsel, Mr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), called a total of 16 witnesses testifying that the April 11 governorship election in Rivers State was peacefully held and credible.

The petitioners, the APC and Peterside, had called 52 witnesses, who had during their time in their time in the witness box painted a picture of violence and massive irregularities characterising the poll.

Among the last set of witnesses called by Wike earlier on Monday was a former National Commissioner of INEC, Dr. Christopher Iyimoga, who testified that contrary to the assertion of the petitioners’ witnesses, the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Rivers State was free, fair and was peacefully conducted.

Meanwhile, part of the documents tendered by Wike’s lawyer on Tuesday were a copy of the APC notice of primaries to the Independent National Electoral Commission, a Certificate of Return presented by INEC to Wike, list of APC agents in the election and organogramme of INEC in Rivers State.

Another set of exhibits tendered by the petitioners were copies of pages from two editions of This Day Newspaper.

Lawyer to the APC and Peterside, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), objected to the admissibility of the documents but indicated that he would argue his reasons for his objection in his final written address.

With the closing of Wike’s case on Tuesday, it is now the turn of the Wike’s party, the PDP, to open its case.

The PDP’s lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN), said he would open his client’s case on Thursday as he conceded that Wednesday, the day he was scheduled to begin his case, should be subtracted from the total of six days allotted to his client.

“We have seen how hard the tribunal is working, so we wish to donate our tomorrow, Wednesday, to the tribunal. We request that we be allowed to commence our case on Thursday,” Uche said.

The tribunal chairman, Justice Ambrosa, acceded to the request and adjourned till Thursday.

The PDP being the last of the three respondents to the petition, at the end of its case, the tribunal will adjourn for all the parties to the petition to adopt their final written addresses, following which judgment will be delivered.

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