Rivers State Governorship Tribunal promises fairness to all parties

The Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal held its inaugural sitting in Abuja yesterday with a promise to be fair to all the parties.

In his inaugural speech, the tribunal chairman, Justice Muazu Abdulkadir Pindiga, appealed to parties and the media to co-operate with the tribunal in the discharge of its duties, without any hindrance.

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the state, Dakuku Peterside, had alleged that the state governor-elect, Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been evading service of court process in the petition challenging his elections.

The tribunal was also told that all attempts by the bailiff of the court to effect service on Wike were futile, due to alleged non-cooperative attitude of the people in the house of the governor-elect.

Peterside, through his counsel, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had approached the tribunal challenging the election the election of the PDP candidate on grounds of irregularities and massive rigging.

At the inaugural sitting yesterday, Akeredolu moved a motion ex-parte praying the tribunal to grant an order for substituted service on the defendant.

He claimed that the court bailiff had on several occasions visited the house of Wike to effect service but was on all the occasion turned back at the gate upon discovery that he was a court bailiff.

In an affidavit deposed to by the bailiff and tendered by the petitioner, the tribunal was told that neither governor-elect nor his agent was ready to receive any court process from anybody.

The SAN said in fairness, he could not establish whether it was Wike that instructed his agents not to accept service. He however urged the tribunal to allow him paste the process on the wall in the interest of justice and to avoid unnecessary delay of proceedings.

In a short ruling, Justice Muazu Abdulkadir Pindiga granted the prayer of the petitioner and ordered that substituted service be effected on the defendant either by pasting the court process on his gate or at the office of the PDP secretariat in Rivers State.

The panel said it would communicate the parties in the petition as to the next adjourned date. Earlier in his inaugural speech, the tribunal chairman had appealed to parties and the media to co-operate with the tribunal in the discharge of its duties, without any hindrance.

Justice Pindiga promised that the tribunal would be just and fair to all parties in all the five governorship petitions billed to be handled completely within 180 days.

Specifically, he assured that the three member tribunal will endeavour to begin sitting by 9am daily and work between Monday and Saturday in order to ensure that all the petitioners are disposed of.

In a response, Akeredolu who spoke on behalf of the bar, thanked the tribunal for the assurances and pleaded that, the members should work assiduously so that none of the petition would lapse so as not to defeat the essence of coming to the tribunal to seek justice.

Credit: Tobi Soniyi/ThisDay