*Fayose, Ekweremadu laud S- Court on Rivers, Ebonyi
By Dayo Benson, Jimitota Onoyume, Henry Umoru, Abdulwahab Abdulah, Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Dapo Akinrefon & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA — The Supreme Court has upheld the outcome of the April 11, 2015 governorship election that brought Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to power.
The apex court in a unanimous judgment, restored the declaration of Wike as the valid winner of the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Justice Kekere-Ekun, who delivered the lead verdict, held that three separate appeals filed by Wike, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and INEC, were meritorious.
Concurrent judgments of both the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and that of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal were all set aside by the Supreme Court.
The apex court panel headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, however, reserved their reasons for the judgment till February 12.
Also the apex court, yesterday, upheld the elections of governors Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State.
Meanwhile, reacting to his victory, Governor Wike said the court victory was a victory for the rule of law and people of Rivers State.
Wike added that the Supreme Court judgment was a victory for democracy and a confirmation that the will of God will always prevail over the machinations of men.
In a statement by Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media, Wike said that the judgment of the Supreme Court validating his election was a confirmation of the mandate freely given to him by the people of the state.
Wike trekked on the streets of Port Harcourt before ending up at the Government House. As he walked the streets, he was greeted by celebrating Rivers people.
Assuring the people of Rivers State that his victory at the Supreme Court will lead to greater delivery of democracy dividends across the state, Wike extended a hand of fellowship to the Rivers State APC governorship candidate, Dakuku Peterside to join hands with his administration to develop the state.
He praised Peterside for approaching the judiciary, instead of embarking on violence.
He stated that the people of Rivers State will continue to benefit from the pro-people projects and programmes of his administration as he was determined to always live up to the social contract he entered with them.
Jubilation in P-Harcourt as Fayose lauds S-Court
There was jubilation, yesterday, on the streets of Port Harcourt, over the victory of Governor Wike at the Supreme Court.
At about 3p.m., there were speculations that Wike was going to win. Some persons were even calling to confirm if Wike had won at the Supreme Court.
Reacting to Wike’s victory, Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose described the judgment of the Supreme Court as a step by the judiciary to free itself from the clutches of desperate politicians, who wanted to ambush the judicial arm of government.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Idowu Adelusi, in Ado-Ekiti, the governor said that the apex court, by its decision, had shown that all hope was not lost as far as the judiciary was concerned.
Fayose lauded the people of Rivers State for solidly standing behind Wike and the governor for remaining steadfast in the face of serious provocation.
He thanked members of the PDP in the state and Nigeria at large for not caving in to pressure.
“I rejoice with Governor Wike that his God-given mandate which some people wanted to take through the back door has been restored and the evil doers put to shame. I must commend the Supreme Court for living up to expectation and letting Nigerians know that all hope is not lost. This should teach those who believe they can reap where they did not sow that in the end, a Daniel will come to judgment,” he said.
Ekweremadu congratulates Wike, Umahi
Also, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said that with its judgment in Ebonyi and Rivers states, the Supreme Court has helped preserve the mandate of the people.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media, Uche Anichukwu, Ekweremadu also hailed Governor Wike of Rivers State and his Ebonyi State counterpart, Governor Dave Umahi, on their victories at the Supreme Court, yesterday.
Reacting to the verdicts of the Supreme Court, Senator Ekweremadu said: “By these verdicts, the Supreme Court has shown itself, once again, as the last hope of the common man. The apex court has continued to demonstrate that it has all that it takes to deepen our democracy and uphold the people’s rights to freely elect their leaders.
“These are important victories, not only for the people of Rivers and Ebonyi states, but also for the PDP. These verdicts have further confirmed that both states are PDP strongholds and I have no doubt that the people are even further bolstered by these judgments to keep it so.”
He urged both governors to continue to reciprocate the people’s goodwill and support through the delivery of democracy dividends in their respective states.
‘Fears of violent re-run dispelled’
Also, Chairperson, Ijaw Mothers, Doris McDaniels told Vanguard that the verdict had laid to rest fears of what a rerun election would have been in the state at the governorship level.
“Thank God because we were bothered about the vulnerable youths that may have died of election violence. Violence has been eradicated. Mothers are no longer in fear of the killing of their children in a re run election. We have defeated blood sucking demons in Rivers State,” she said.
Commissioner for Housing, Mr Emma Okah said Wike’s victory has certainly humbled the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state.
Okah who had his comment on his face book wall said: “Wike and PDP won at the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Federal might failed, pride of APC failed. Supreme Court feared God.”
Chairman Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, South South, Mr Karl Uchegbu said the judgement had saved the state another round of violence, adding that it had also restored confidence on the judiciary.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, president, Augustine Alegeh, SAN, said: “We believe that the Supreme Court has considered all the facts and did what it believes is right. All affected parties should accept the Supreme Court decision because it is the apex court of the land.
“Whatever I say now will be speculative without reading the judgment, so we await the reason for the decision of the court, because whatever it says becomes the law.”
Another senior lawyer, Chief Alex Iziyon, SAN, said: “The judgment has followed the decision in the case of Zamfara State. The decision is also consistent with the judgment in the case of Buhari versus Obasanjo, which states that whenever there is a conflict between the constitution and the Electoral Act, the constitution prevails.
“Yet some Court of Appeal Justices still went ahead to decide the other way round in some of the cases. There must be certainty in the law and that is what the Supreme Court has affirmed.”
Chief Robert Clarke, SAN, said: “The Supreme Court is the apex court in Nigeria, so whatever judgment it gives, becomes sacrosanct and it is binding on all parties.
“It has the final say on the subject matter and there is no other thing that the parties can do except to appeal to God. So they have to abide by it and move forward.”