Election Petitions Tribunal

The National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Port Harcourt has declared candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Tekenari Wellington, winner of Asari-Toru constituency 1 of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The Tribunal, however, Tuesday sacked the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Ipalibo George, who was initially declared winner of the March 1 election.

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It also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue a Certificate of Return to Wellington immediately.

Wellington had approached the tribunal seeking it to nullify the victory of the Social Democratic Party’s candidate, George at the Rivers state House of Assembly, Asari-Toru constituency 1, Rivers state.

Delivering the judgment on behalf of the panel Justice J. O. Bangboshe stated that candidate of the PDP proved before the tribunal that he lawfully polled the greater number of votes against the Social Democratic Party’s candidate, George who was initially declared the winner of the election.

The Tribunal added that the petitioner also proved that most of the result sheets presented by the SDP candidate and the police as evidence were neither signed nor contained INEC stamps and dates.

Speaking with newsmen outside the courtroom, Dike Udenna, counsel for Wellington, said the tribunal gave its judgement based on the evidences brought before it.

“Judgment had just been delivered in favour of the petitioner, candidate of the PDP, Tekenari Wellington as the rightful candidate that polled a majority of the lawful votes.

“The court has accordingly declared that INEC issue him (Wellington) a Certificate of Return and be sworn in immediately, after considering all the evidences adduced by the parties. The tribunal came to the conclusion that some of result sheets been relied upon by the 2nd respondent (INEC) were not authentic and did not have signatures, INEC stamps, dates or names of those who purported to be presiding officers in the election.”

Also, counsel for Social Democratic Party candidate, Inmie West, said he was consulting with his client to appeal the judgement.

“The tribunal in its wisdom upheld the petition of the petitioner (Wellington) and declared that the petitioner proved his case.

“I am liaising with my client to know if we will appeal the judgement. If we fail to appeal within the 21 days window period of appeal, then my client will automatically vacate the seat, but for now, my client remains a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly.”