Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The President of the Court of Appeal(COA) Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa has relocated the Bayelsa Elections Petitions Tribunal to Abuja for security reasons.
The tribunal which had its office at the Bayelsa State High Court premises Onopa road, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital had a total of 18 petitions before it over results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the national and house of Assembly elections.
Investigations revealed that the President of the Court of Appeal had been inundated with series of petitions bordering on the level of insecurity in the state and the dangers it portends for the smooth sitting and safety of tribunal members.
The petitions made references to the sack of the election petitions tribunal at the premises of the Federal High Court in 2015 by suspected hoodlums loyal to a particular political party and urged the President of the COA to relocate the sitting so as to ensure an objective adjudication of the election petitions.
The letter signed by the Chief Registrar, Election Petitions Tribunal, Court of Appeal, Mrs. Rabi Abdulazeez with reference number CA/EPT/68/VOL1 addressed to the tribunal members stated that the relocation was for security reasons.
The letter reads in part “I am directed by the Honourable [President, Court of Appeal, Hon Justice Z. A Bulkachuwa CFR to inform you that she has relocated the Bayelsa State National and State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal from Yenagoa to Abuja for security reasons”
Meanwhile, there is disquiet over the invitation by the Police of ad-hoc INEC officials in the 2019 national assembly elections in the state.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) had won three national assembly seats namely, Bayelsa East Senatorial, Nembe/ Brass Federal Constituency and Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency seats but which the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) had rejected on the grounds that election was not held in some wards during the election.
Findings indicated that in reply to the petition filed by the PDP against the victory of the APC, INEC through its ad-hoc electoral officials had maintained that election held in all the wards stating that the candidates of the APC were duly returned.
Checks indicated that the State Investigation and Intelligence Bureau (SIIB) had invited all electoral officials that participated in the election to report on Monday fueling fears that there are attempts to intimidate the electoral officials.
Already the APC is said to be preparing a petition to the Inspector- General of Police to complain about the clamp-down on electoral officials by the SIIB.
Sources at the party secretariat said the party is mobilizing its members to storm the SIIB office to stop the harassment of INEC officials in the state.
A top officer at the Bayelsa State Police Command said there was no authorization for such invitation adding that a new Commissioner of Police would assume duties on Monday and would straighten things at the Command.