In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court has affirmed the election victory of Governor Siminalayi Fubara in Rivers State. The five-member panel, led by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, dismissed the appeal filed by Mr. Tonye Cole of the All Progressives Congress (APC), citing a lack of merit.
Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, delivering the lead judgment, emphasized that the court found no grounds to overturn the decisions of both the Court of Appeal and the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which upheld Fubara’s victory in the March 18, 2023, election.
The Supreme Court held that Tonye Cole failed to demonstrate that the election was not conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022. Despite the APC withdrawing from the case during the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal proceedings, Cole remained committed to pursuing his petition.
Governor Fubara, representing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), secured victory with 302,614 votes, defeating his closest rival, Cole of the APC, who garnered 95,274 votes, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Cole’s allegations of corrupt practices during the election and Fubara’s purported failure to validly resign from his previous position were dismissed by both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal. The latter, while affirming the tribunal’s decision, clarified that APC’s withdrawal did not prevent Cole from pursuing the appeal independently.
The Supreme Court had previously dismissed a separate appeal against Fubara filed by the candidate of the Allied People’s Movement (APM), Innocent Kere, after the appellants withdrew the case.
The decision solidifies Governor Fubara’s legitimacy as the elected governor of Rivers State.