Court dismisses suit seeking to stop collation of results in Rivers

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The Federal High Court, Abuja has dismissed a suit seeking to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission from collating the results of the March 9 governorship and House of Assembly Elections in Rivers State.

Delivering judgment on Tuesday, Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the suit which was filed by the African Action Congress and three of its members for lack of jurisdiction.

Justice Ekwo upheld the preliminary objection filed by the Peoples Democratic Party to challenge the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.

According to the judge, the subject matter before the court is a post-election matter meant for the election petition tribunal and the Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction over such a matter.

Ekwo held: “In very plain language, the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs are post-election and fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the election tribunal.

“The authority in Ohakim Vs Agbaso is very apt and until set aside it remains the law; Once an election has been held, it leaves the threshold of the Federal High Court.

“I find that the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs are within the realm of election tribunal and I hereby decline jurisdiction to hear the suit.”

Ekwo consequently made an order dismissing the case for want of jurisdiction.

The plaintiffs: AAC; its governorship candidate in Rivers State, Biokpomabo Awara; and  Ben-Gurion John Peter, asked the court for an order restraining INEC from continuing with collation of results in Rivers State.

They predicated their application on Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, Section 26(5) of the Electoral Act and Order 46 Rule 5 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedures 2009.

One of the grounds of their application was that INEC had earlier admitted that the election in Rivers State was marred with violence that compromised the credibility of the entire process, thereby suspending it.

They contended that without calling for a fresh election, INEC had announced, through a press release, that it was now set to continue with the election from March 20.