By Codratus Godson
Fears were rife that Rivers State would go up in flames Friday afternoon as many waited for an Abuja High Court which fixed ruling on a case seeking to disqualify Gov Nyesom Wike from contesting the elections the next day, due to a court case.
Danger signals were everywhere in parts of Rivers State especially within the multinational corporations that were already secretly shutting down over what armed youths would do the moment the court pronounced Wike not eligible. There would have been no time to get another court to award a stay of execution. It was believed that armed youths would have shut down the state to stop any elections without Wike.
Now, Friday afternoon, reports came that the judge said he could not disqualify Wike. The judgment has left the state free to continue the other pockets of shooting caused by army operations which the party termed military invasion which the claimed had affected 50 houses belonging to chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
One Elvis Chinda had accused Wike of attaching forgery birth certificate to his Form CF001 submitted to INEC on November 2, 2018, for clearance to participate in the 2019 general election, was forged. According to the Plaintiff, “As at 3rd October 1986, there was no local Government Area known as Obio /Akpor Local Government Area in existence in Rivers State. “As at 1986, Rumuepirikom was not in Obio /Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, but in Port Harcourt Local Government Area of Rivers State being the parent LGA from where Obio /Akpor Local Government Area was carved out”.
The plaintiff argued that INEC, “is not in a position legally to disqualify Wike from contesting the governorship election except the court gave an order disqualifying him for the breach of Section 182 (1) (j) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Meanwhile, the court, in a judgment that was delivered by Justice Iyang Ekwo, dismissed the suit on the premise that the plaintiff failed to prove the allegation beyond reasonable doubt. The court held that the allegation, being quasi-criminal in nature, ought to be proved beyond every reasonable doubt, a burden it said the plaintiff filed to discharge against Wike. The judge also raised many other weaknesses of the case and freed Wike to carry on with the elections. He rather berated the plaintiff.
Many PDP lords have launched into jubilation as the case was a legal huddle which no man was above, they said. This is especially as the PDP was seen to have used courts to get their strongest opponents out of the way, though indirectly. A faction of the APC believed to be in good terms with Gov Wike had succeeded in knocking the APC out of the ballot. Next, the court also knocked out the Accord Party where the many believed APC was tilting to. The PDP felt that a court order stopping Wike would have looked normal to ordinary persons. Now, such fears have been perished. The rest is meeting the challenge of military strikes at PDP suspected basis around the state.
Meanwhile, the PDP chairman in the state, Felix Obuah, has expressed joy over the victory in Abuja. Obuah, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Jerry Needam, said the judiciary has once more risen above sentiments to save the nation’s nascent democracy.
He described the judgment as heartwarming, inspiring and divine, stressing that God has in his infinite mercy, rendered the counsel of the wicked to be foolish. The State PDP Chairman who described Governor Wike as an all-round winner, expressed confidence that Wike’s winning streak would culminate on Saturday with a resounding victory against his opponents.
Obuah further described Governor Wike as a man on divine mission, urging his traducers to be humbled as according to him, whosoever God has blessed, no man can curse. He said one great way of celebrating the victory is to peacefully troop out en-masse on Saturday, adding that ‘one good term, certainly deserves another’.