On Wednesday, the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja reserved judgment on the petition filed by Tonye Cole, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, in the March 18 governorship poll.
Cole is challenging the victory of Governor Siminalayi Fubara of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The three-member tribunal, headed by Justice Cletus Emifonye, adjourned the matter after the parties adopted their final written addresses and presented their arguments for and against the petition.
While Fubara scored 302,614 votes to win the election, the APC candidate had 95,274 votes, while Beatrice Itubo of the Labour Party (LP) scored 22,224 votes to come third.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the sitting, Tuduru Ede, SAN, the lead counsel to Cole, said about 40 witnesses were called, and about one thousand exhibits were tendered during the case.
“The main plank of our case is that the second respondent (Fubara), 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 State.
“We brought evidence to that effect, and we await the judgment of the tribunal,” he said.
Also speaking, Cole, who was at the tribunal, said he trusted the tribunal and God that justice would be done in his petition.
He said he was in the tribunal to ensure he took back the mandate stolen from him.
“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,” he said.
The Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, who also attended the proceeding, refused to speak to journalists.
He said, “Go and speak to them (pointing to the lawyers).”
Efforts to also speak to counsel to the respondents, Kanu Agabi, SAN (INEC), and Emmanuel Ukala, SAN (Fubara), were unsuccessful as they declined to speak, while Joseph Daudu (PDP) could not be reached.
While Cole is the petitioner, INEC, Fubara and PDP are the first to third respondents.
On September 7, the tribunal had also reserved judgment in the petition filed by the governorship candidate of the Labour Party against Fubara’s victory.