The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, on Wednesday, heard at its inaugural sitting in Abuja that the state governor-elect, NyesomWike, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has been evading service of court processes of a petition challenging his election.
One of the petitioners, DakukuPeterside of the All Progressives Congress(APC),who made the complaint through his counsel, RotimiAkeredolu (SAN) told the tribunal that the bailiff made attempts twice to serve Wike with the processes without success, due to the unco-operative attitude of the people in his house.
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.
However, Akeredolu said in fairness, he could not establish whether it was Wike that instructed his agents to bar the bailiff access to effect service. He, therefore, urged the tribunal to allow him paste the processes on the wall in the interest of justice and in order to avoid unnecessary delay of proceedings.
In a short ruling, Justice MuazuAbdulkadirPindiga 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. He ordered that such service will be deemed proper and valid.
DakukuPeterside of the APC said four others who were candidates in the Rivers State governorship election are challenging Wike’s election on various grounds, including alleged irregularities and massive rigging.
The chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Mu’azuAbdulkadirPindiga said the tribunal will communicate the next adjourned date to the parties as soon as the petitioner file notice of service.
Earlier in his inaugural speech, the tribunal chairman, had appealed to parties and media for co-operation with the tribunal in the discharge of its duties. He assured the parties that the tribunal will be fair and just. He said the tribunal will sit Monday through Saturday in order to meet the 180 days allowed by the law.
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 petitions 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 will lapse as such will negate the essence of coming to the tribunal to seek justice.