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What’s next as APC, others miss deadline for governorship election petitions in Rivers?



The political crisis in Rivers State is intensifying as parties struggling to access the Certified True Copies (CTC) of the electoral materials used in the March 18, 2023, governorship election for inspection have missed the 21-day deadline to file their petitions at the tribunal.

CITYNEWS NIGERIA reports that Abubakar Umar, the secretary of the election tribunal, confirmed this development. According to him, the tribunal has yet to receive any petitions from political parties or governorship candidates.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) was close to obtaining the documents on Thursday, but two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains, Samuel Nwanosike and Edison Ehie, reportedly prevented APC’s lawyer, Godwill Dike, from completing the process. PDP supporters had laid siege to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office, preventing Dike, a colleague from the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and INEC staff from exiting through the gate. The PDP protesters had insisted that all parties interested in filing petitions against the election must inspect the electoral materials jointly.

When the protesters learned that Dike had signed the documents at INEC on Thursday, they became irate and moved to the front of the office to barricade the entrance gate. The situation grew tense as the security personnel stationed in and around the INEC office watched without taking action.


Dike confirmed the incident and said that he pleaded with Nwanosike and Ehie to help him escape the situation as he had no security detail with him.

According to him: “At the point, I signed for the acknowledgement copy of the CTC of the INEC documents, we discovered that the hoodlums had blocked the entrance gate to the INEC office, so the tension was high. I was only looking for safety that moment, I had the documents but my party also sent someone and instructed that I hand over the signed documents to the person.

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“As I handed over the signed documents to the person sent by my party, we all had difficulty going out of the premises of INEC and one thing I observed, the security personnel were just watching the scene and doing nothing. I tried to hide but the INEC officials encouraged me to go, saying nothing would happen.

“So when I approached the gate, the tensed situation increased, I knew it was about my life, so I reached out to the APC legal adviser and a colleague, they assured me that they had contacted Cole who is making efforts to send military officers to see how they can rescue us. All that proved abortive.


“While the siege continued at INEC office, I saw the Ikwere Local Government Chairman, Nwanosike and the Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly Edison Ehie. I approached them and they said, Oh, Dike you should not have come here, they explained that they were also having challenges.

“I told them I did not have any security and since they have security, they should try and see what they can do. Nwanosike said, ‘You are from my LGA, I won’t allow these people harm you.’ It was at that point that their security came, Ehie held my hand, and Nwanosike held my colleague’s hand and in the midst of the crowd, we were rescued. Else we would have been mobbed. That was exactly the scene that looks like abduction. I want to state it on record that it wasn’t a case of abduction.”

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He added: “When I handed over the documents to the person, he was also scampering for his safety and I cannot ascertain if he was able to move out with the documents.

“To be fair, Edison held my hands, Nwanosike held my friend’s hand, I didn’t see them with any documents. I have contacted the person I gave the documents and he said he could not move out with the documents. The thugs laid siege there and it would have been very risky to attempt going out with the documents.”


The 21-day deadline set by the election tribunal for parties to file their petitions elapsed on Friday, leaving the APC and others in a tight spot.

Despite the difficulties faced by the APC in accessing the electoral materials, it is learnt that the party still has a chance to file its petition.

The Freedom of Information Act allows non-governmental organizations and the public ti request the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide them with the documents.

However, it is understood that before the APC obtained the order of the tribunal for the release of the Certified True Copies (CTC) of the materials, the party had already put the tribunal on notice. This suggests that the party was prepared to pursue the matter at the tribunal.

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“Once, you have done that, you will be listed as one of the petitioners. So the process of going to INEC to get the CTC is part of the process required to get all the materials required for evidences in court” an APC spokesman, Darlynton Nwauju explained.

He added: “The proper filling of our case is yet to be done but the tribunal has been served official notice that the APC is ready to challenge the 2023 elections in court.

“It was on the strength of that the court gave order that the documents be released to our party. Today (Friday) is public holiday, so we will go back on Tuesday. In the Electoral Act, there is nowhere INEC is directed to ensure that materials are jointly inspected. All they need to do is to photocopy the materials and give to the parties that have applied for them

“It is the same document they will give to PDP that they will still give to APC, SDP, Accord and others. So, I see this as simple matter, it is just to photocopy the materials into the number of applicants and distribute to save the state the traumatic situation to which it has been subjected.”


Other political parties in the state, including the SDP, Labour, and Accord, have expressed disappointment that the PDP was impeding their efforts to file cases with the tribunal.

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