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Court declines PDP’s request to stop tribunal relocating to Abuja

Justice F.O Riman of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa- Ibom state has dismissed the application filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to stop the relocation of the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal from Uyo to Abuja.

Delivering ruling in a suit instituted by the state chairman of the party, Mr. Paul Ekpo on behalf of the PDP challenging the powers of the Appeal Court President, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to move the tribunal from Uyo to Abuja, Justice Riman dismissed the application for lacking in merit and substance.

The judge also declared the application null and void following the grounds on which it was filed.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom state in a petition by its Chairman, Mr. Ini Okopido to the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Justice Abubakar Malami, urged him to relocate the election tribunal from the state to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Okopido in the petition cited alleged attempts to perpetuate electoral fraud by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Mike Igini in collusion with the Akwa Ibom state government and the PDP to destroy electoral materials needed to substantiate the election petition of the APC as the reason for the demand.

He stated that “we observe with deep regrets that since Mr. Mike Igini superintended over the worst general elections ever conducted in Akwa Ibom state that was fraught with manifest irregularities and widespread of electoral infractions, the resident electoral commissioner is now unveiling a grand scheme to thwart and create a chaotic environment to pave way for the pervasion of justice.

“We have been reliably informed that the resident electoral commissioner is now intimidating electoral officers who participated in the just concluded general elections in the state, particularly, collation officers, supervisory presiding officers, presiding officers and assistant presiding officers to forcefully coerce them to concoct and fabricate false reports of violence and ballot paper snatching.

“All in a bid to justify the clandestine activities of Mr. Mike Igini days after the purported declaration of results, seeing that unit results will expressly show that candidates of the APC clearly won the elections by the votes directly delivered at the polling units across the state.”

Meanwhile, reacting to the ruling, a chieftain of the APC, Obong Michael George blamed the PDP over it persistent attacks on the Court of Appeal president.

Describing the ruling as a right step in the tight direction, George wondered why the PDP has persistently chosen to say things that will portray Justice Bulkachuwa in bad light.

‘’The suit was frivolous, reckless, unwarranted and capable of portraying the president of the Court of Appeal in bad light over her constitutional and legitimate right over the establishment of election tribunals as well as its relocation if need be.

‘’Of recent, the PDP presidential candidate asked the Appeal Court president to recuse from sitting in the election petition tribunal. The party should allow the judiciary exercise its constitutional rights over things it has powers over,” he added.

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