Wike begins defence at Rivers election petitions tribunal

ABUJA—Governor Nyesom Wike, Wednesday, began the defence of his mandate, before the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja.

The governor, whose election is being challenged by the All  Progressives Congress, APC, and its governorship candidate in the state, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, opened his defence before the tribunal, by producing seven witnesses that testified on his behalf.

Among those that mounted the witness box, and testified that the governorship election actually held in Rivers State on April 11, 2015, included the traditional ruler of Dagbo village in Khana Local Government Area of the state, Chief Adamgbo Sampson.

The 53 years old king, who was led into evidence by Wike’s lawyer, Mr. Okey Wali, SAN, told the Justice Suleiman Ambursa-led panel that he participated at the election which he said was violence free.

To prove that he was an elector at the election, the witness tendered his Permanent Voters Card, PVC, as an exhibit before the tribunal.

Justice Ambursa admitted the PVC into evidence and marked it as exhibit BW-4.

While being cross-examined by counsel to the petitioners, Chief Akinolu Olujimi, SAN, the traditional ruler told the tribunal that the Card Reader Machine that was deployed in his community by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the purpose of the election, failed.

He said upon the failure of the card reader machines, INEC officials at Ward 2 where he voted resorted to accrediting voters manually.

“That was what I saw when I arrived at my polling unit and that was how I was accredited even though the voters’ register was produced by INEC officials and we saw it”, he added.

When counsel to the petitioners produced a document that contained the list of  all the electorate that were accredited at that particular polling unit and asked the witness to read the contents to the hearing of the tribunal panel, he refrained, saying: “I am an old man. What is written here is very tiny and I cannot read it because I did not come here with my glasses.”

Among those that equally testified before the tribunal were two serving and three retired  civil servants.

The retirees, Abah Amos Abah, who said he voted at Unit 5, Ward 1 at Dekena Local Government Area, LGA, Godwin   Gbarabie Ndor, from  Dagba village in Kana LGA, and Mr. Adasiewune Kome, from Amaotueum Imyhorum village in Andoni LGA, all in Rivers State, also tendered their PVCs as exhibits before the tribunal.

Likewise, two civil servants, Mr.  Buruberi Nkodan from  Korokoro village in Tai LGA, Mr. Gbonene Gibson and a trader, Mr. Bebe Barise, from Ward 1, Unit 1at Kana LGA, equally testified before the tribunal yesterday that they all voted during the governorship election, even as they also tendered their PVCs into evidence.

The seven witnesses maintained that contrary to allegation by the petitioners, they were not aware that thugs had at any time during the poll, hijacked electoral materials  and ran inside the bush.

They told the court that all through the election, they never saw soldiers close to any of the polling units.