Joe Effiong, Uyo
All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State has asked the chairman of the National and State Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal, Justice Jennifer Mbalamen Ijohor, to resign for.marrying a PDP stalwart.
Addressing the press on Saturday in Uyo, the state chairman of the party, Mr.Ini Okopido, said Justice Ijohor has to relieve herself of the chairmanship of the tribunal because her husband, Prof. Anthony Ijohor, is not only a PDP stalwart but also the secretary to Benue State Government, headed by a PDP governor, as such, Justice Ijojor cannot discharge her duties as objectively as the party would expect.
“We have three major reasons to believe that Hon. Justice Jennifer Ijohor’s conflict of interest has become a burden for her, and so she has not been discharging her duties at the tribunal objectively. One, the Petition number EPT/AKS/HR/08/2019 between Edidiong Efiong Idiong & APC (Petitioners) and Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo, PDP & INEC (Respondents) in respect of Ikono/Ini Federal House of Representatives was struck out on the strength of interlocutory injunction application. This was despite spirited arguments by counsel to the petitioners drawing the panel’s attention to the relevant sections of the law to persuade the panel.
“Similarly, the petition number EPT/AKS/HR/03/2019 between Hon. Ekerete Ekpenyong & APC (Petitioners) and Hon. Michael Enyong, PDP & INEC (Respondents) for Uyo/Ibesikpo Asutan/Uruan/Nsit Atai Federal Constituency was denied the amendments sought by the petitioners at the pre hearing stage by the Hon. Justice Ijohor on the flimsy excuse that the name of the federal constituency was not written in full. Our lawyers’ spirited arguments to have that amended were turned down. Such amendments are being routinely granted by other panels and indeed regular courts. Of course, we have appealed these judgments.
“Another reason we believe that the Hon. Justice is biased against the APC and its candidates is rooted in the public statements and tweets of Henry Ijohor, who is the only son to the Hon. Justice. In his various statements and public communication, Henry has indicated more than a passing interest in the petitions filed at the various tribunals, particularly those in Akwa Ibom and Rivers states.
In his tweet of 21st March, 2019, sent out at 8.24pm, Henry said: “The judges and lawyers handling Rivers and Akwa Ibom elections petitions have to be experienced. On the surface it’s obvious they’ll (sic) be a lot of pressure on them and a lot of work to be done” @BarrHenryIjohor.
“We therefore request the Hon. Justice Ijohor to do the right thing and recuse herself from the Election Petition Tribunal in Akwa Ibom,” Okopido
Meanwhile Akwa Ibom State chapter of PDP has described as laughable the allegations leveled against Justice Ijohor.
In a statement issued by the party and signed by its publicity secretary in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Ini Ememobong on Saturday, the party said discerning minds have once again been treated to newer levels of paranoia and display of imposter syndrome in the text of the press conference addressed by Okopido.
“ For the avoidance of doubt, the state chairman of that broom confraternity ought to be aware that election petitions are _sui_ _generis_(of a special type) and therefore not all the rules of civil procedure apply therein. There are different laws enacted for the adjudication of these matters before the tribunal, which must be followed stricto sensu and failure to do so, usually attracts consequences.
“A careful observation of the issues raised by the Chief broom carrier, will reveal that the APC is blaming the judge (who incidentally is not sitting alone) for their woes. The rational question will now be, how is the judge responsible for the omission by APC counsel to comply with the provisions of the law governing election petition? Should they ideally blame the judge, the Law or their lawyers?”