By Martins Ezigwe
A cross-section of the members of the public who turned out to witness the scheduled rulings in Preliminary applications fixed for today by the Anambra State Gubernatorial Election Petitions Tribunal, went away disappointed and angry as the secretary to the Tribunal announced that the Tribunal will not sit until Wednesday, February 19, 2014.
‘We have the pleasure to announce to you that the Tribunal was originally reserved today for rulings. But due to some inconvenience, the Tribunal will not sit until Wednesday 19th February 2014’, the secretary announced without apologies prompting different reactions.
Initially there was a pin-drop silence, which was eventually pierced by the angry reaction of a citizen, Mr Sunday Akubundu who claimed to have travelled from Akili Ozizi, Ogbaru Local Government Area (LGA).
Akubundu thundered: ‘The other day I was pushed out by security people, because they said the small court room was full and refused to change the venue. Today it is an abrupt adjournment that could not be put on the Notice board on time. Now after nearly three hours, they are calling off the matter without reason. I hope there is truth in what we are coming here for’
As of in response lanky, dark-complexioned man simply identified as Chuka, as he was called by his acquaintance with which he discussed said, sarcastically in Igbo, in a veiled reference to possible compromise said : ‘Ike akanekwe onu (Perhaps the negotiation is still on-going). You know these things are now by highest bidder’ He was quickly challenged by his friend to ‘keep your mid unabused’.
‘It might be logistic or flight problems, or simply that the members of the panel ‘had not finished writing there ruling, as you know it is not one ruling’.
The loud argument continued in the premises of the State Judiciary headquarters venue of the Tribunal sitting pulling a larger crowd and getting louder with time.
Ruling was expected today in at least four applications. One of the applications was filed by A faction of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA)to which the INEC-declared Governor-elect Chief Willie Obiano belongs, seeking to strike out the name of the party from the first petition on filed on December by Dr Chike Obidigbo ,on December 19,2013 seeking to be regcognised as APGA candidate.
The second application is a consolidated filed by the legal team of Senator Chris Ngige and his party All Progressive Congress (APC), Rotimi Akerdolu, SAN, seeking the order of the tribunal that all preliminary applications should be considered alongside the substantive matter and taken in the final address and addressed in the final judgement. The second and third legs of the same prayers were filed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the PDP candidate in the disputed elections, Messrs Tony Nwoye respectively. The third application, equally filed by Akeredolu is to enable his clients report the findings of physical inspection in INEC offices in Awka. INEC and the Residential Electoral Commissioners of INEC, Anambra State is First and second respondents sin the matter.
Another application filed by Dr Chike Obidigbo seeking to be joined as aprty in all the petitions in the tribunal was reserved for hearing.
According to the Electoral Act all preliminary applications are supposed to be determined two weeks from commencement of preliminary hearing.
But for another woman Theresa Udeh, the secretary ought not to have made an announcement of that magnitude without apologies t reflect sensitivity to the feelings and thee inconvenience caused the public who are interested in this matter because eof the way the elections went in Anambra State’
‘Does it make sense for him to say he has he pleasure…pleasure of what? To disorganise the members of the public? This is where the anger is coming from. There are only 180days to determine these petitions and each stakeholder should play his role to see justice done’ Mrs Udeh advised, affirming that ‘ I shall be here on Wednesday ( February 19, 2014) and lets see what they will say again.
The usual horde of green and white-vested ‘APGA Ambassadors’, and the refreshments of sausage and malt drinks distributed at the entrance of the Tribunal by APGA clearly absent in the Tribunal today.