Friday, October 2, 2015

Wike’s Witnesses Entertain Tribunal With Poor Vision Claims

In what looks like a re-enactment of the incident in which Prof John Etu Efeotor, who was the returning officer for Rivers state in the presidential and National Assembly elections at the national collation centre of the INEC in Abuja, complained of poor eyesight when asked to read out the election results, a similar drama has played out at the Rivers state governorship election tribunal. Governor Nyesom Wike had on September 30 opened his defence of a suit challenging his April 11 election victory by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside. All the witnesses presented by Wike created amusement at the Justice Suleiman Ambrosa-led tribunal when they allegedly refused to read documents, making the excuse of poor vision. According to The Nation, the witnesses were from Tai, Khana and Andoni local government areas of the state and they all complained of visual impairment. It was reported that their excuses brought light entertainment to the court room. The witnesses are Amos Apa, Barisua Peter, Monday Burabari Nkpoba, Gbrone Gibson, Adagbo Samson, Agahigiwune Isaiah and Godwin Gbarapi. Apa from Tai local government and a retired civil servant, blamed his age for his inability to read the document. The 67-year-old retired civil servant was shown Exhibit A300/5 which showed that no party agent signed the results. Also, Samson attributed his inability to read to the fact that he forgot to come with his reading glasses. Another mild drama ensued when under cross-examination, Peter said that he started voting at the age of 15. He is now 31 and claimed to have been voting from 1999. He could not convince the tribunal that voting actually took place in his polling unit at ward 1, unit 1, Bori, Khana local government area of the state. Peter later agreed that accreditation of voters were done manually as against the new standard of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s card reader. Not done with the drama, the PDP’s lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe attempted to shield one of the witnesses from being confronted with an earlier admitted document made by the INEC, but was overruled by the tribunal on the grounds that it was premature. At one point, Justice Ambrosa cautioned Wike and the PDP lawyers to desist from whispering to witnesses before the tribunal. He said: “We (lawyers in the case) should be careful. We (tribunal members) are not here to destroy anybody. Why carry other people’s case on your head? If you are not careful, you will have stroke in few days.” In a related development, the APC had demanded an investigation into the widely publicised violence that marred the electioneering period in the state, claiming the lives of several people. The state chairman, Dr. Davies Ikanya expressed concern that the governor has not ordered a probe into the killings.

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