Exclusive: APC moves to file application to compel tribunal chairman to step aside
By Mohammed Lebo, Deputy Political Editor, Abuja
The All Progressive Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State has polished up plans and might move any moment from now to file an application at the Tribunal seeking to compel the Chairman of the Tribunal for National and State Assembly elections Justice Jennifer Mbalamen Ijohor to step down with immediate effect.
Our correspondents gathered that the plan which is a product of the advice handed to the APC by the “Powers above” is meant to serve as additional effort to stir up ill-will against the tribunal chairman in a bid to stampede her to relinquish her seat as chairman of the Tribunal.
Our source who is one of the chieftains of the APC in Akwa Ibom State disclosed that some bigwigs of the party who are deeply interested in the case met on Monday night to deliberate on the issue and rose with the decision to file a strong-worded application before the tribunal stating their discomfort with the chairman of the tribunal and demanding her to recuse herself from presiding over cases at the tribunal.
The submission of the Application, it was further gathered, will be followed by a heightened media campaign which will amplify the message that Justice Jennifer Ijohor is not objective enough in the discharge of her duties as chairman of the tribunal.
This plan to file an application seeking to compel Justice Jennifer Ijohor to step down as chairman of the tribunal is coming just a few days after the All Progressive Congress in Akwa Ibom had frontally accused the tribunal chairman of bias, insisting that she 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.
The APC in a Press Conference addressed by the State Chairman of the Party further insisted in their accusations that the cases which have so far been dismissed by the tribunal were done out of bias against the APC.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State in sharp response has said the fears expressed by the APC on the standing of the chairman are transparently lacking a strong foundation in both facts and law., reminding the APC that there are different laws enacted for the adjudication of election petition matters before the tribunal, which must be followed stricto sensu and failure to do so, usually attracts consequences.
The PDP in a Press Conference addressed by the Publicity Secretary Comrade Ini Ememobong in Uyo on Monday also drew the APC’s attention to the fact In Amaechi v. INEC, the court of Appeal held inter alia that failure to comply with procedural steps, which ordinarily could be waived in a civil matter, will be fatal to the petition.
“Additionally, in the cases mentioned by Mr. Okopido, the petitioners(APC and their failed 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 PDP maintained at the Conference.
The PDP further insisted that a careful observation of the issues raised by the the APC will reveal that the APC is blaming the judge(who incidentally is not sitting alone )for their woes. The PDP wondered how the judge is responsible for the omission by APC counsel to comply with the provisions of the law governing election petition.