With less than 24 hours to the governorship and House of Assembly elections in the country, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike can heave a sigh of relief as the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday dismissed a suit seeking an order disqualifying him from contesting in the governorship election.
The plaintiff, Mr. Elvis Chinda, who hails from Rivers State had filed the suit on November 26, 2018. He faulted the statutory declaration of age allegedly attached to Form CF 001 submitted to Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) by Wike for the 2019 governorship election.
According to the plaintiff, the document deposed to on behalf of Wike on October 3, 1986, by one Collins Nyeme Wike, claimed that the governor hailed from Rumuepirikom in Obio / Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, when the said Local Government was only created three years after.
The plaintiff, through his lawyer, Achinike William-Wobodo, claimed that the Obio / Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State was only carved out of Port Harcourt Local Government in 1989 by Decree No 12 of 1989.
While delivering judgment on Friday, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the plaintiff failed to prove the allegation beyond reasonable doubt as required of a forgery case being criminal in nature.
“It is a criminal offence. The onus is on the plaintiff to establish ingredients of the allegation with credible and convincing evidence.
“I find that the plaintiff has not proved the allegation against the first defendant (Wike) beyond every reasonable doubt or at all,” Justice Ekwo said.
The judge also held that by virtue of section 285 (9) of the 4th Alteration to the1999 Constitution, the case had become statute-barred on the grounds that it was not filed within 14 days after Wike submitted Form CF 001 to INEC.
The judge held that the suit lacked credibility because the plaintiff failed to state where the alleged declaration of age was obtained.
Wike is seeking re-election for a second term on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in the Saturday’s election.