S'Court Dismisses Wike's Appeal Challenging Relocation of Tribunal to Abuja

by ThisDay

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the decision of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, in relocating the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal to Abuja on grounds of alleged insecurity in Rivers State.

The tribunal, which sat in Abuja, had last Saturday nullified the April 11 governorship election that produced Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) as governor and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election within 90 days.

At the preliminary stage, Wike had challenged the tribunal's jurisdiction to sit outside Rivers State.

The tribunal dismissed his objection and a further appeal to the Court of Appeal was also dismissed.

He consequently appealed t‎o the Supreme Court.

Ruling on the appeal yesterday, a full panel of the apex court unanimously dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.

Reading the lead judgement, Justice Amiru Sanusi held that evidence abound that there were security challenges prevailing in Rivers state as at the time the panel was constituted.

He further held that the court could not be bound by its earlier decision in Ibori's case which was cited by the appellant.

The court further noted that it was not the President of the Court of Appeal that relocated the court in the Ibori's case and that there was no security challenges then.

Justice Sanusi held:"But in this case, it was the President of the Court of Appeal that relocated the tribunal to Abuja because of insecurity. It was this situation that demanded for a doctrine of necessity which made the President of the Court to relocate the tribunal to Abuja to protect the lives of the members of the panel.

"I agree with the lower court that the PCA is right in relocating the panel to Abuja.

"On the whole, I hold that the tribunal is properly constituted by the President of the Court of Appeal even without consultation with the Chief Judge of Rivers state or the President of the Customary Court‎.

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