It was gathered that the All Progressives Congress and its candidate in the April 11 governorship election, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, have accused the Governor-elect, Chief Nyesom Wike, of evading service of the processes of their election petition seeking the nullification of the results of the poll.
The petitioners made the allegation, through their counsel, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), at the inaugural sitting of the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Apo, Abuja on Wednesday.
Akeredolu said all attempts by the bailiff of the court to effect service on Wike had been futile.
He then urged the court through an ex parte application to allow the petitioners to serve Wike through a substituted means of pasting the process on the wall of his house to avoid unnecessary delay of proceedings.
In a short ruling, the Justice Muazu Pindiga-led tribunal, granted the prayer of the petitioners and ordered that substituted service be effected on the respondent either by pasting the court processes on the gate of his house or that of the PDP secretariat in Rivers State or in Abuja.
He said the efforts to serve the court papers on the governor-elect failed due to the alleged non-cooperative attitude of the people in Wike’s Port-Harcourt and Abuja homes.
Akeredolu said that the court bailiff had on a number of occasions visited Wike’s residences in Abuja and Port Harcourt but was always turned back at the gate by the governor-elect’s agents when they found out the bailiff’s mission to serve court processes.
The former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, however, said that he could not establish “whether it was Wike that instructed his agents not to accept service”.
After granting an order of substituted service, the panel then adjourned the case but stated that it would communicate the next hearing date to parties to the petition.
Through their petition, Peterside and the APC are challenging the victory of the PDP candidate on grounds of alleged irregularities and massive rigging that characterised the election.
Other defendants in the petition are the Independent National Electoral Commission and the PDP.
There are four other petitions challenging Wike’s election before the tribunal.
The other petitioners are Charles Harry of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, Tonye Princewill of the Labour Party, Kemka Elenwo of KOWA Party and Minaibim Harry of the Social Democratic Party.