Jubilation yesterday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, and its environs, as the Appeal Court affirmed the Election Petitions Tribunal’s sack Governor Nyesom Wike.
Wike was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the April 11 election.
As soon as the news filtered into the Garden City that the Appellate Court had upheld Wike’s sack, scores of the residents poured onto the streets to celebrate.
The enthusiastic crowd converged on the campaign office of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candiate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, and the party’s state secretariat, both on Forces Avenue, near the Government House.
They sang, drummed and danced.
Rivers APC, through its Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, thanked God for ensuring justice for the people’s mandate.
He said the judgment was “a perfect birthday gift” for the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Felix Obuah, whose birthday was yesterday.
Rivers APC said: “We received with satisfaction the judgment of the Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, upholding the judgment of the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja, which sacked Governor Nyesom Wike.
“The APC considers the decision of the Appellate Court that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not comply substantially with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) as incontrovertible. We believe that the decision today (yesterday) by the Appeal Court is a confirmation that evil can triumph over good, but only temporarily.
“We urge our followers and supporters to remain calm; they will be directed by our leaders, through God Almighty’s inspiration. We also urge all intending members of our party to go and register at their units and old members to go and revalidate their membership. We assure all that thunder will never strike in the same place twice.
“The APC is happy to recognise that today (yesterday) is the birthday of Bro. Felix Amaechi Obuah, the Chairman of the PDP in Rivers State. We are glad to offer him this Appeal Court judgment as a perfect birthday gift.”
Also, Ikwerre indigenes of Rivers State, under the aegis of Ikwerre Youth Movement (IYM); a group of legal practitioners, under the aegis of Lawyers Network for Change and All Progressive Congress (APC) loyalists have hailed yesterday’s Appeal Court nullification of Governor Wike’s victory in the April 11 election.
They described the judgment as victory for those killed before and during the election and triumph of democracy over impunity.
The Appeal Court in Abuja yesterday upheld the verdict of the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which nullified Wike’s election victory.
In its October 24 judgment, the tribunal, headed by Justice Suleiman Ambrosa, voided Wike’s election and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh poll within 90 days.
In separate reactions yesterday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, IYM’s President-General, Azubike Wanjoku; the Chairman of Rivers State Network for Change, Zubi Dike and APC chieftains said the Judiciary had demonstrated that it was the hope of the common man.
Wanjoku told our reporter that the judgment was also a victory for Rivers residents, especially supporters of APC candidates in what he called the stolen mandate.
He said the judgment had exposed the “electoral robbery” that occurred during the polls and restored the confidence of the people on the Judiciary.
According to him, IYM members in four Ikwerre-speaking local government areas in the state are prepared for the rerun, in compliance with electoral guidelines.
Wanjoku said: “IYM members in the four Ikwerre-speaking local government areas in Rivers State are in celebration mood because we have been vindicated at last. We commend the Appeal Court for its judgment and we are dedicating the verdict to the victims of 2015 election in the state.”
Dike noted that with the Appeal Court’s verdict, those killed during the governorship election would now rest in peace.
The lawyer said his organisation was not expecting anything less from the Appeal Court, adding that the verdict was an expression of the wishes of Rivers residents.
He said: “There has been a lot of political rascality and impunity in the state. But with the decision of the Appeal Court, those ‘masquerades’ that are making Rivers State unsafe will now face judgment before their conscience. This decision is a plus for democracy and a victory for our slain compatriots.”
APC chieftain and one of the local government chairmen Wike sacked, Lucky Woluh, said the judgment was the end of brutality and impunity in Rivers State.
The politician noted that a government that created insecurity for the people would not last.
He said: “What happened today at the Appeal Court was a clear indication that the will of God must prevail. Don’t forget that a lot of innocent citizens of this state were murdered during the election. With the decision of Appeal Court, Adube’s family and other victims have got justice.”
APC governorship candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, praised the Appeal Court for affirming the tribunal’s judgment.
The APC chieftain noted that the Appeal Court’s verdict would strengthen the nation’s democracy and political process.
He said the Judiciary would be remembered for standing tall, even in the face of unwarranted provocation and vilification by those who brazenly stole the people’s mandate during the March 28 and April 11 elections in Rivers State.
In a statement yesterday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, by his media aide, Sylvester Asoya, the APC chieftain congratulated Rivers State residents for their patience to reclaim their mandate.
The statement said: “I am happy that the Judiciary is rekindling hope in our electoral process and in our country. This is so because the Judiciary is sending the right signal, particularly to those who perpetrate violence and fraud during elections.
“Never again will a people’s mandate be subverted so viciously by a violent and self-seeking few, all in the name of political contest. Members of our party and supporters were murdered in cold blood in their homes and on campaign grounds for their political beliefs. We are happy that this injustice is being addressed by a credible institution like the Judiciary.
“We pray never to experience the level of persecution, violence and deaths that characterised the March 28 and April 11 elections in our state. Democracy is about freedom, equality and justice; so, everybody must join hands to defend it at all times.
“I, therefore, wish to dedicate our victories in the legislative and executive arms to our fallen brothers and sisters, our supporters and other Rivers residents for believing in us and for keeping faith.
“Our state will be great again, if and only when we vote into public office our sons and daughters who will not bring shame to us by their words and actions.
“We, members of the APC, know the needs of our people as we fully appreciate the leadership crisis rocking our state today. You have sacrificed and waited all these agonising months for justice. Now, justice has come. I commend you and urge you to hold on a little more as we all march collectively towards entrenching the kind of leadership that will serve our overall interest, irrespective of our political persuasions.”