Supreme Court dismisses suit challenging Wike’s illegibility to contest poll

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a suit seeking the disqualification of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State from contesting in the last governorship election.

The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, led the five-man panel of the apex court which unanimously held on Monday that the notice of appeal filed before the Court of Appeal by the plaintiff, Elvis Chinda, who initiated the suit before the Federal High Court,  was incompetent.

The plaintiff’s prayer that Wike be disqualified was anchored on an allegation that the governor forged the statutory declaration of age he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission for the 2019 governorship election.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja had in its March 8, 2019 judgment held that Chinda not only failed to prove the allegation, but the suit had become statute-barred because it was filed outside the time stipulated by law.

Chinda had subsequently filed an appeal against the judgment but was said to have wrongly addressed it to the ‘Federal High Court’ instead of the ‘Court of Appeal.’

He later applied to the Court of Appeal for amendment of the notice of appeal to reflect the name of the Court of Appeal.

But Wike, dissatisfied with the development, appealed to the Supreme Court contending that the amendment granted by the Court of Appeal was illegal as he contended that it violated Paragraph 14(2) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act.

In the lead judgment of Justice Olukayode Ariwoola,  who prepared the lead judgments on the two appeals, the apex court upheld Wike’s case and ruled that the amendment of the notice of appeal by the Court of Appeal was illegal.

The judgment was read on his behalf by another member of the panel, Justice Paul Galinje.