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.
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A former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George has urged federal government to relax the lockdown it imposed on Lagos State as a result of COVID- 19 pandemic.
George, who made the call in a statement in Lagos, yesterday said the lockdown imposed since March 29 was adversely affecting livelihoods and bringing up security challenges.
He said though government intended to curb the spread of the virus with the lockdown, the directive had left many Nigerians hungry at home without palliatives.
The PDP chieftain noted that there must be a balance between curbing the spread of the virus and protecting livelihoods and asked the government to relax the lockdown while putting safety measures in place.
“Everywhere in Lagos is now locked down. The markets, banking halls, the local grocery shops, the supermarkets, the transportation services are all halted, frozen by the federal government directives since March 29.
“On the surface level, the federal government’s position is to ensure safety, prevent communal spread of the virus and banish this scourge from our shores.
“Lagosians have been staying at home for about a month now. In a largely informal economy where most of our people depend on daily wages, the burden of lack of income is devastating.
“There is a natural growing anger in Lagos as the most vulnerable are ravaged with hunger,” George said.
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