THE tribunal has dismissed a petition filed by the African Action Congress (AAC) governorship candidate, Biokpomabo Awara, challenging the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
Awara was the runner-up in the 2019 contentious governorship election having polled 173,859 votes. He had filed a petition against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Wike and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the Rivers State election petition tribunal seeking to be declared the winner of the election.
The three-man tribunal panel, led by Justice K.A Orjiako, dismissed Awara’s petition over incompetence and deemed abandoned on the ground of Paragraph 4 of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act.
Orjiako explained that both the AAC and Awara failed to meet the key procedural requirement as it concerns applying for pre-hearing information.
At the resumed sitting of the tribunal yesterday, it first struck out applications by Awara, urging the tribunal to separate him from all joint applications previously filed with the party. His application was predicated on AAC’s recent adoption of Mr. Henry Bello as its counsel following the withdrawal of Tawo Tawo (SAN) from the matter as AAC counsel.
Justice Orjiako described the application by Awara’s counsel, Mustafa Ibrahim, as an abuse of court processes and struck out his application for pre-hearing of the matter.
Ibrahim told journalists outside the court that his client’s application sought the tribunal to recognise his petition as standing on its own.
According to him, this would clearly distinct Awara’s petition from that of the AAC.
“We had an application in light of the fact that the second petitioner has bifurcated the petition and had a new counsel. We have filed some processes on behalf of the parties and wanted the court to regularise them by just making them refer to one person. But the other parties challenged the petition and the court ruled in their favour, so, that led us to the next step.
“The second application, which was the next step, was to commence on pre-hearing section but the court was on the opinion that the application to commence that pre-hearing has not been properly filed,” he said.
Meanwhile, AAC’s counsel, Mr Henry Bello, said that his client’s application that was dismissed was filed in error, even after he had been given mandate by the party to handle the case.
He stated that the AAC’s application for issuance of pre-hearing information was filed out of time.