Discerning minds have once again been treated to newer levels of paranoia and display of imposter syndrome via the text of the press conference addressed by the state chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Akwa Ibom State chapter, Ini Okopido. In the statement,he expressed fears which were transparently lacking a strong foundation in both facts and law. 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. 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 Supreme Court in Okereke v. Yar’Adua held that pretrial is a condition precedent to the hearing of a petition and without it, a petition is incompetent . On the issue of amendments sought for and denied by the three member tribunal( not the Chairman of the Tribunal), the law is specific that after the period allowed for filing of a petition, no amendment shall be made except to correct typographical errors. The amendments sought by the APC has the capacity to change the tone and character of their petition- this, the law clearly forbids.
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?
On the issue of bias, may we remind the broom movement, which is currently on the inevitable downward spiral that, bias is not just a word to be bandied about in a legal proceeding, it must exist in fact and be felt, at least by the reasonable man. The rulings of the three man panel, like every other panel or court of like composition, can either be by unanimity or majority. The chairman’s vote is not a veto, it carries the same weight as that of the members and no more. Situations abound where the two members have voted against the decision of the chairman and their decision became that of the panel, the recent judgment of the Osun state Governorship election tribunal can refresh our minds on this subject. So if the rulings of the tribunal is against the APC, it is not the position of the judge complained about, but either the unanimous decision or majority decision of the panel. The APC cannot seek to rely on the Bulkachuwa scenario in making its ill-intentioned application because the two scenarios can be clearly distinguished.
My Lord the PCA,Bulkachuwa posted ‘himself’ to the panel conscious of the existing political relationship between one of the parties (the Respondent) and his family. In this case, the tribunal Chairman was posted by the PCA here, without any contribution or influence by the Judge. And recall that in the PCA’s case, personal relationships in addition to partisan ties between the parties were clearly brought to the fore. In the instant case, there is no proof of personal relationship between the parties before the tribunal and the chairman of the tribunal, except the inchoate allegation that her spouse is a member of the PDP. Even with that, there is no evidence to suggest that the husband of the chairman of the tribunal is a card carrying member of the PDP. That he was appointed SSG in Benue does not infer and cannot be construed to mean, that he is a member of the PDP. Membership of a political party is a process and documents exist in witness of same. There is no legal requirement that stipulates membership of a political party as a basis for appointment, unlike the case of the PCA, whose husband’s election to the senate was sponsored by the respondent before him. The SSG could have been appointed on the basis of his expertise and nothing more. The reliance on the illusionary social media post by an imaginary son of the Judge is most laughable, as we are all aware that in this age and time, mere name similarity is not a conclusive proof of biological relationship. There are suspicions that the APC is behind that post, in their usual scenario creation tactics.
Finally, we want to advice the APC to be more circumspect in their rants and shouts, as it is becoming very glaring that the fear of the unfolding reality of the judicial confirmation of their woeful electoral loss , is getting to them and they are terribly mortified. The consciousness that the entire country will laugh at their earlier loud mouthed boasts of delivering Akwa Ibom to the APC is gradually settling in. This panic reaction will only worsen their already battered public image. The world recalls their previous attempts at preventing the panels from sitting in Akwa Ibom and later seeking to relocate them. Having failed in those moves, they have changed gears and are asking for substitution of the chairman of a panel, so as to intimidate the other remaining judges, that if they don’t do their(APC) bidding, they will push for their change. The said judge is their test case and they are ready to commit resources and energy to this futile attempt.
We urge the entire public to discountenance the false claims by the APC and advice them to put their house, both political and legal in order. Neither the PDP, the Law or the Tribunal is the cause of their unending melancholy.
Comrade Ini Ememobong ANIPR
State Publicity Secretary
People’s Democratic Party
Akwa Ibom State Chapter