•Condemns dismissal of Dawari and Odili’s cases on technical grounds
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has alleged a grand conspiracy between the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and some judges to frustrate the party’s petitions brought before the tribunals in respect of the March 28 and April 11 general elections in the State. The party made the allegation following the shocking ruling on Tuesday by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in the matters of Dr. Dawari George and Mr. Lucky Odili of Asari-Toru/Akuku-Toru Federal Constituency and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Federal Constituency respectively. Both men had filed petitions challenging the victory of Hon. Boma Goodhead of Asari-Toru/Akuku-Toru Federal Constituency and Prince Nnam Obi of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Federal Constituency. The Tribunal surprisingly dismissed the petitions on the grounds that APC’s revised notice for the conduct of the party’s primaries for the said elections was not within the stipulated 21 days.
Rivers APC Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, said in a statement issued on Monday in Port Harcourt: “While the party was still grappling with the seeming partiality of Justice Lambo Akanbi of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt which deliberately denied the 22 elected Local Government Chairmen the right to fair hearing in a matter brought before it by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC), another panel of judges presiding over the National Assembly election petition tribunals moved again to create its own laws outside the Electoral Act 2011, denying Dr. Dawari George and Mr. Lucky Odili the right to fair hearing in their petitions against INEC and PDP.
“The panel had after several applications filed by PDP to frustrate the suit at the early stage, decided to strike out the suits on grounds of technicalities. The reason cited by the tribunal is based on section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2011 which states that political parties shall give 21 days notice to INEC before their primaries are held to choose their candidates, an Act which APC allegedly did not comply with.
“Incidentally, the Electoral Act 2011 under this section DID NOT stipulate any PUNISHMENT for flouting the said Act. Rather than hear the matter on its merits as WARNED by the Chief Justice of the Federation, the judges decided to introduce their own punishment, which is to strike out the matter.”
Continuing, Rivers APC said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the tribunals are charged with ONLY election matters and no pre-election matters, which are the exclusive preserve of the regular courts. This obvious travesty of justice negates the principle of the Rule of Law which is borne out of the MERITS of a case and not mere technicalities – which is a negation of merits in election matters specifically.
“From all indications, there is going to be a repeat of history in Rivers State as this is similar to the case in 2007 when the Appeal Court in Amaechi vs Omehia severally turned down the appeals of Amaechi based on technical grounds and the Supreme Court ordered twice that the lower court MUST hear the matter on its merit. Though it was justice sought on a high price as Amaechi had to pay higher fees to the legal team each time the matter came up at the Supreme Court, in the end justice was done and seen to be done.”
Dr. Ikanya noted that while APC has filed an appeal against the strange tribunal ruling, PDP is agog on the delusion that all APC candidates, including their nightmare, the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, will lose out in their subsequent petitions. The APC Chairman described PDP’s celebration of victory occasioned by fear of the truth on the shambolic elections in Rivers State to be premature. “This,” he declared, “cannot be an escape route for Caretaker Governor Nyesom Wike and his followers. This is the era when SANITY shall overrule IMPUNITY at all cost. The die is now cast!”
Signed Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
SSA on Media and Public Affairs to the State Chairman, APC Rivers State.