…verdict marks end of distractions – Fubara

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Rivers State governorship election, Tonye Cole, and affirmed Governor Siminalayi Fubara as the duly elected governor of the state.

The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-member panel led by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, dismissed as lacking in merit the appeal filed by Cole to challenge the outcome of the governorship election held in the state on March 18, 2023.

In the lead judgement delivered by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, the apex court said it found no reason to dislodge the concurrent verdicts of the Court of Appeal and the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which upheld Fubara’s victory at the poll.

The court held that Cole did not establish that the election was not conducted in compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.

INEC had declared that Fubara of the PDP polled a total of 302,614 votes to defeat his closets rival, Cole of the APC who got a total of 95,274 votes.

Dissatisfied with the outcome of the poll, Cole approached the tribunal to challenge it.

The appellant, among other things, alleged that the Rivers State governorship poll was marred by corrupt practices, insisting that it was not conducted in substantial compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2022. He also alleged that Fubara did not validly resign his previous position as required by the law before the election held but continued to sign documents as the Accountant-General of Rivers State, even after he was nominated as the candidate of the PDP for the governorship election.

Consequently, he urged the tribunal to nullify the Certificate of Return that was issued to Fubara and declare that he was not the bonafide winner of the election. Cole further prayed the tribunal to declare that he was the authentic winner of the gubernatorial contest.

However, both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal dismissed his case for lack of merit.

The Supreme Court had earlier dismissed a separate appeal entered against Fubara by the candidate of the Allied People’s Movement (APM) in the election, Innocent Kere.

Speaking on Thursday in Port Harcourt after the verdict, Fubara said his victory at the Supreme Court has laid to rest the legal battles that added to the distractions his administration grappled with in the last eight months, declaring his resolve to remain committed to the purpose for which he was elected.

“About an hour ago, the Supreme Court revalidated our mandate in the election. It is a victory for the entire state,” Fubara said.

Related News

“It is important for us to note that we need this victory to consolidate the purpose of governance. Prior, we have had a few distractions here and there.

“And the good news that came to us this morning is a refreshing strength that will encourage us to continue the good works in governance,” he said.

He thanked God and President Bola Tinubu for his fatherly role concerning the internal crisis and the litigation against his election.

He also extended gratitude to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, whom he described as his “Oga” for all his support.

The governor called on everyone to join hands with his administration to build a competitive state that will be reckoned with as truly prosperous in all ramifications.

In a similar vein, the Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed Agbu Kefas of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the duly elected governor of Taraba State.

The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-member panel, held that the NNPP and its candidate filed an incomplete record of appeal.

The apex court, in its lead judgement delivered by Justice Mohammed Garba, dismissed as incompetent an appeal filed by the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) and its governorship candidate in the state, Prof. Sani Yahaya.

The appellants had approached the Supreme Court, praying it to set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal in Abuja which affirmed Kefas’ election victory.

The appellate court had in the judgement it delivered on November 28, 2023, dismissed the appeal by the NNPP and its candidate as lacking in merit.

The court held that it found no reason to vacate the verdict of the Taraba State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which had on September 30, 2023, declared Kefas Agbu of the PDP as the valid winner of the gubernatorial poll.

The appellate court faulted the tribunal for not striking out the petition outright, noting that it was legally incompetent.

The Supreme Court also affirmed the election of Ahmed Aliyu of the APC as the governor of Sokoto State, dismissing the appeal filed by Saidu Umar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).