The Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal has struck out the petition filed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) following the withdrawal by the party’s counsel.
With this withdrawal, the governorship candidate of the APC, Tonye Cole remains the only petitioner against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Fubara Siminalayi.
Cole is challenging the victory of Siminalayi in the March governorship poll in the state.
Drama ensued at the Tribunal as the APC filed an application for change of counsel in their petition against the PDP and its candidate.
When the matter commenced, counsel for the APC, Solomon Umoh told the Tribunal that he would be taking over as counsel for the party following a motion for change of counsel before the tribunal.
Umoh also told the court that his clients would like their names to be struck out from the petition as applicants.
Jibrin Okutepa, who was the former counsel for Cole and the APC, told the Tribunal that he was not briefed on the new development by the party.
The three-man panel led by Justice Cletus Emifoniye, however, granted the application for change of counsel and also granted the motion as prayed by striking out the name of APC as a petitioner.
The APC’s withdrawal was brought pursuant to order 9 rule 15 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2019.
One of the grounds for the application amongst others is that “there is the need to seek the leave of this Honourable Tribunal to strike out the name of the 2nd petitioner/applicant, as the applicant has no intention to participate in this petition.”
No date has been fixed for the commencement of the pre-hearing of applications before the Tribunal.