Tribunal to Wike: Your motion on non-payment of N100 pre-trial fee lacks merit

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The Rivers State Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja on Monday dismissed a motion by Governor Nyesom Wike against the All Progressives Congress (APC) flag bearer, Mr Dakuku Peterside.
Wike, the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the April 11 governorship election in Rivers State, had told the tribunal on August 14 that Dakuku did not comply with the provisions of the Electoral Law on payment of fee for pre-hearing.
He told the tribunal in a motion moved by his counsel, Mr Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), that Dakuku, the petitioner in the matter, did not pay the N100 for Form TF007 before the commencement of pre-hearing in his matter.
Ukala added that the petitioner did not submit the Form TF007 within seven days required by the law and that he was out of time before submission.
He, however, urged the tribunal to dismiss Dakuku’s petition for not complying with the rules of the law.
Counsel to Dakuku and the APC, Mr Akin Olujimi (SAN), had told the tribunal that there was nowhere “it is stated in the law that one should pay money before pre-hearing.’’
According to Olujimi, if such a law exists, the N100 in question should be deducted from the initial N400,000 the petitioner paid as a security fee before the commencement of the tribunal sitting.
Giving his ruling on the matter, Justice Muazu Pindiga, the Chairman of the tribunal upheld that there was no defence by Wike, the 2nd respondent in this matter to warrant the dismissal of the petition.
According to Pindiga, the relevant section of the law, which determines pre-hearing is very clear, adding the applicant falls short of convincing the tribunal on why the petition should be dismissed.
“The petitioner satisfied the provision of the law, Paragraph 37(1) of the first schedule of the electoral law does not provided for such fee to be paid.
“The fee stipulated in that section is for the petition and not for the pre-trial stage, therefore; the application is hereby discountenance and dismissed,’’ Pindiga said.
The tribunal also asked the parties in the petition to move their other motion.
Olujimi moved a motion seeking the order of the tribunal to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the 1st respondent, to bring all election documents in dispute in the petition from the commission’s office in Port Harcourt to Abuja for inspection.
He recalled that the tribunal had on June 11, ruled that the APC be allowed to inspect all materials used for the governorship election and that the party had been denied access to the documents as ordered by the tribunal.
“We want an order directing INEC to grant the petitioner access to the ballot papers used in the governorship election in dispute in this petition to enable the petitioner inspect the ballot papers and photocopies and scan them through their biometric expert,’’ he pleaded.
Olujimi also moved a motion seeking an order of the tribunal directing all the respondents’ to move their preliminary objection pending before the tribunal or any other that might arise alongside their final addresses.
Wike’s counsel, Ukala moved a motion seeking for stay of execution of proceeding on an order granting the leave of the petitioner to inspect the election material used for April 11 election.
According to Ukala, there is an appeal before appellate court on the subject matter of inspecting the materials used for the election.
Ukala maintained that any matter before a higher court, “a lower court is restricted from presiding over such matter.’’
He also moved for an order seeking to strike out all motions and statements on oath accompanying the petition such as full name and identity of the deponent.
He further moved for a motion seeking to strike out the petitioner’s reply to the 2nd respondent to the petition.
Also counsel to INEC, Mr Wale Balogun moved a motion challenging the competence of the petitioner’s replies to some of the motions raised by his client earlier.
The tribunal, however, adjourned ruling on some of the pending motion before it to August 19.

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