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FCT Minister, Wike’s Presence In Rivers Election Tribunal Sitting Stirs Controversy As Court Reserves Judgement

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, was in court on Wednesday when the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja reserved judgment in the petition filed by Tonye Cole, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 18 governorship poll in Rivers.

Cole is challenging the election victory of Governor Siminalayi Fubara of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Following the adoption of the final written addresses of the parties as well as the presentation of their arguments for and against the petition, Justice Cletus Emifonye-led three-member tribunal adjourned the matter for judgment.

The day for the judgment was not disclosed by the tribunal.

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The APC candidate, Cole challenged the victory of Governor Fubara, who was pronounced winner of the March 18 election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) having polled 302,614 votes as against 95,274 votes garnered by Cole.

Speaking at the tribunal, Cole expressed his confidence in the tribunal and God that justice would be done in his petition.

He said: “First of all, I am extremely grateful to the team of lawyers that stood their ground, refused to be intimidated, put very accurate facts forward.

“I am very satisfied with what has been presented today as our final address.

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“And I am trusting the tribunal and trusting my Lord, God Almighty, that justice will be done.”

Also speaking Cole’s counsel, Tuduru Ede (SAN), said the aim was to ensure that the client’s mandate was restored.

He added that about 40 witnesses were called with enough exhibits were tendered to support their case.

“We know exactly what happened on election day but that is very different from what we are doing in court.

“What we are here to do in court is to ensure that we secure the mandate that was taken off us in March and I just want to assure everybody in Rivers that we will do everything within our power to ensure that justice is done.

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“We have presented the case, we are just waiting for the result.

“The judgment is just a few weeks away. So let’s be patient, stand firm, we are fighting this all the way to the end.

“The main plank of our case is that the 2nd respondent (Fubara), as at the time of the election, was not qualified to run. “He didn’t resign from his post as Accountant-General and Permanent Secretary in Rivers.

“We led evidence to that effect and we await the judgment of the tribunal,” he said.

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