The All Progressives Congress, (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State last Saturday exchanged words over the former’s call for the resignation of the chairman of the National and State House of Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal in the state, Justice Jennifer Ijohor.
The APC had, in a press conference by the state chairman, Ini Okopido, expressed concerns of bias and conflict of interest on the part of Justice Ijohor in presiding over the tribunal in Akwa Ibom State since her husband, Prof. Anthony Ijohor, SAN, is one of the stalwarts of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) in Benue State.
The APC statement read in part: “Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the APC has established that Hon. Justice Jennifer Mbalamen Ijohor, who is the Chairman of Panel 2, National and State House of Assembly Election Petition in Akwa Ibom State, has a strong family relationship with a PDP stalwart, and so, there is a clear conflict of interest in her work as the Chairman of the Tribunal.
“We know for a fact that the husband to Hon. Justice Jennifer Ijohor, Prof. Anthony Ijohor, SAN, is the Secretary to the Benue State Government (SSG) under a PDP governor.
“Prof Ijohor is a strong PDP stalwart in Benue State. Before he was appointed SSG, Prof Ijohor was an Adviser to the PDP Government of Governor Ortom. He holds very strong and critical views about the APC. It is not farfetched if these sentiments are shared between husband and wife,” he said.
Okopido, who recalled that the President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa recused herself from presiding over the Presidential Election Petition Panel because her husband is an APC member, said that Justice Ijohor should also honourably resign to save her integrity.
According to him, “Since Hon. Justice Jennifer Ijohor’s husband is a PDP stalwart in their home state of Benue and she has shown obvious bias against us, we are similarly calling on Justice Ijohor to resign from presiding over the Election Petition Tribunal in Akwa Ibom State.”
However, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) through its publicity secretary in Akwa Ibom State, Ini Ememobong, in a press statement tagged “APC’s Sustained Imposter Syndrome”, said APC’s claims and fears were unfounded and baseless, noting that election petitions are of a special type and therefore not all the rules of civil procedure apply therein.
According to him, “In the cases mentioned by Mr. Okopido, the petitioners(APC and their candidates) failed or neglected to apply for Pre-trial forms which is in contravention of the provisions of the extant Electoral Act and the consequence is trite- the petition must be dismissed, same being incompetent.
“The law is specific that after the period allowed for filing of a petition, no amendment shall be made except to correct typographical errors. The amendments sought by the APC has the capacity to change the tone and character of their petition this, the law clearly forbids.”
Ememobong said the APC should not allude the scenario of PCA, Bulkachuwa to that of Justice Ijohor because the two scenarios can be clearly distinguished as there was no evidence to prove that the husband of the chairman of the tribunal is a card carrying member of the PDP, stressing that his being appointed SSG in Benue State does not infer he is a PDP member.
“There is no legal requirement that stipulates membership of a political party as a basis for appointment, unlike the case of the PCA, whose husband’s election to the Senate was sponsored by the respondent before him,” the PDP said.
Kaduna Guber Contest: PDP Seeks Cancellation Of 515, 951 Votes
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its Governorship candidate, Isah Ashru will today ask the Kaduna State Elections Petition Tribunal to cancel a total 515, 951 votes which it contended were unlawfully added to the total votes cast during the March 9 poll.
The tribunal had fixed Aug. 19 for adoption of final written addresses by counsel in the governorship election case.
A certified copy of the document to be adopted by the PDP was obtained by newsmen on Sunday in Kaduna, yesterday.
In the document, the PDP is asking the tribunal to declare Ashiru as the validly elected governor of the state by majority of lawful votes cast.
The petitioners had called 135 witnesses out of the 685 they assembled to prove massive rigging, ballot stuffing and other irregularities during the poll as contained in their petition.
In their final written addresses, the petitioners alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had added 391,741 votes to Nasiru El-Rufai of APC and a total of 124, 210 unlawful votes to the PDP through wrong or double entry on the result sheets.
The PDP and its candidate contended that declaring El-Rufai winner by INEC was illegal as he did not score majority of lawful votes cast.
The PDP through its legal team of Emmanuel C. Ukala SAN, Donald Denwigwe SAN, Chief Ferdinand O. Orbih SAN, Elisha Y. Kurah SAN and 14 other counsel said a deduction of 391,741 votes from 1,045,427 scored by El-Rufai and 124,210 from Ashiru’s 814, 168 votes will give victory to their candidate.
The counsels further argued that after the deduction of the alleged unlawful votes, Ashiru will be left with 689,958 lawful votes, while El-Rufai will have 653,686 votes.
The petitioners averred that evidence of their witnesses has demonstrated that there were “improper entries in the polling units results, wrongful collation of entries in the ward collation results including unstamped and un-authenticated votes and void or invalid votes were credited to the parties”.
They further argued that a total of 4, 235 votes were wrongfully credited to El-Rufai on form EC8A while 256 votes were also wrongfully entered for Ashiru.
In another polling unit 45,478 votes arising from unstamped result sheets were unlawfully credited to El-Rufai, while 9,655 votes were equally credited to their candidate.
Also 6,840 unlawful votes arising from improper collation figures were entered for El-Rufai while 1,098 vote were credited to Ashiru.
” Some 391,188 void and unlawful votes were also credited to El-Rufai while 113,001 votes were equally credited to the PDP in other polling units in the state,” the petitioners argued.
The party also submitted that it had produced enough material evidence of substantial irregularities to enable the tribunal declare its candidate winner of the March 9 governorship election in Kaduna State.
The PDP cited several authorities in the written address, alleging that INEC, El-Rufai and the APC did not demonstrate the required evidence to counter the relevant materials as well as oral and documentary evidence by their witnesses.
House Committee Condemns Attack On Ekweremadu
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Yusuf Buba (APC-Adamawa), has condemned the alleged attack on former Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu by some members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Germany.
In a statement, yesterday in Abuja, Buba urged Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, Amb. Yusuf Tugga to ensure the attackers are made to face justice.
Ekweremadu had on Saturday attended the 2nd Igbo Cultural Festival of Iri Ji in Nuremberg, Germany, as a distinguished guest of honour on the invitation of the Igbo community.
Ekweremadu, who was however, violently attacked by some men believed to be members of the proscribed IPOB group was whisked away in a vehicle as seen in a video that had since gone viral.
The senator who had since released a statement confirming the attack said that he was fine and had received thousands of calls and messages from Nigerians identifying with him.
Buba said that given the high personality profile and the public service record which Ekweremadu parades, it was unthinkable for any individual or group anywhere in the world to attack him in such a manner.
According to Buba, his very own people in the diaspora who ought to know better to contemplate, carried out the despicable public act of shame that was brought upon a well-respected national leader.
Buba described Ekweremadu as an accomplished scholar in the legal profession and a political leader of high standing in society.
He also described Ekweremadu as one of the longest-serving senators, who had also in the last 12 years until June this year, held sway as the deputy president of the Nigerian Senate.
He said that before joining the Senate, Ekweremadu was also secretary to the Enugu State Government and had before then served in various capacities in that state.
“I, therefore, in very strong terms, condemn in its entirety the action of the group of Igbo people, alleged to be members of the outlawed IPOB.
“I also wish to join other Nigerians and leaders to call on the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Amb. Yusuf Tugga to investigate and bring to book everyone who was part of that dastardly assault on a serving national leader,” he said.
Kalu Condemns Attack On Ekweramadu In Germany
The Chief Whip of the Ninth Senate, Dr Orji Kalu, has condemned the attack on the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweramadu in Germany by some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Ekweremadu, who attended the 2nd Annual Igbo Cultural Festival in Nuremberg, Germany, was assaulted physically by some members of the group.
A video showing the assault on Ekweremadu by the group had gone viral across the various social media platforms.
Kalu, a two-time governor of Abia, in a statement issued by his Media Team yesterday in Abuja, described the action of the group as uncivilised, unacceptable and barbaric.
He urged Igbo people to respect leaders at all levels, noting that the only way the South-East zone could be prosperous was to embrace dialogue, peace and unity.
Kalu in the statement made available to newsmen also urged the Embassy of Nigeria in Germany, the German Government and appropriate authorities to bring the perpetrators of the act to book.
“After watching a viral video of the physical attack on former Deputy President of the Senate Sen. Ike Ekweramadu, I was not only disappointed but irritated and disturbed with the action of some members of IPOB.
“The assault on the senator is a slap on Igbo leaders regardless of age, party affiliation and religion,’’ Kalu said.
According to him, the perpetrators of the uncivilised act must face the wrath of the law.
“Sen.Ekweramadu is not only one of the Igbo leaders but also a prominent Nigerian and as such should be accorded due respect by all and sundry at home and abroad.
“For the South-East to move forward, the people of the region must embrace dialogue as a way of resolving pertinent issues and eschew violence.”
Kalu, who appealed to Igbo across the globe to be law-abiding and remain good ambassadors of Nigeria, urged Igbo groups to educate their members on the consequences of social vices.
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