*APPEAL COURT JUDGEMENT ON AKWA IBOM NORTH EAST SENATORIAL DISTRICT CANNOT BE ARRESTED*
(being text of the press briefing by Comrade Ini Ememobong, State Publicity Secretary Peoples Democratic Party Akwa Ibom State)
Recent events at the Court of Appeal have attracted the attention of the People’s Democratic Party in Akwa ibom state necessitating this press conference. The facts are that the Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar over the appeal field by Hon. Bassey Etim, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Ukoette and the All Progressives Congress against the judgements of the Election Petition Tribunal delivered in favour of Senator Bassey Albert (Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District) and Honourable Unyime Idem (Ukanafun / Oruk Anam Federal Constituency) respectively were adjourned for judgement on Tuesday 15th October, 2019, upon conclusion hearing and adoption of of briefs. on the said date, the panel arrived the court premises but did not sit. However, The registrar of the court announced in open court that judgment in all the cases on the cause list for that day will no longer be delivered, without any further explanation.
As a party and defendant in these matters, we find this situation very awkward and therefore invite the attention of the international community, the National Judicial Council, Chief Justice of Nigeria, civil society groups to the existing anomaly as regards these cases. It is trite law that after the adoption of briefs by parties and a court adjourns for judgement. On the next adjourned date, it is obligatory for the court to deliver judgement on the matter, except where things arise that make it impossible for the judgement to be delivered. In such exceptional cases, all the parties must be informed of such supervening circumstances. In the instant case, there was no explanation whatsoever and there is till date, no explanation for the inability of the court to deliver judgement on these cases.
We would have ignored the situation or second guessed that there were genuine reasons for the failure to deliver the judgement, but not for the sudden celebration in the camp of the opposition APC, evident majorly on the social media accounts of APC media aides and supporters clamoring that they have caused a change in the panel to sit and hear the appeal and that the new panel is set to deliver judgement in their favour. This event forces a reminiscence of the Chief Godswill Akpabio pre-emptive legal circus where APC media nightsoil men had already informed the world of the existence of a minority judgement earlier in the day before the drama eventually became reality. We hope and pray that this postulation never materializes.
We are therefore very suspicious of this newfound jubilant mood which as conveyed by the opposition APC, is predicated on their report of a new panel by the court of Appeal whose mandate is to deliver judgement in favour of the APC. We need not emphasise that elections in the affected constituencies were won fair and square by Obong Bassey Albert, and Hon. Unyime Idems with APC candidates trailing miserably far behind. The Court of Appeal being a creation of law to protect and uphold the Democratic governance cannot become a vehicle for the subjugation of popular will freely manifested through the ballot.
While our party and our candidates, who have transited into government functionaries are peace loving and law abiding citizens, we advice the various authorities adjudicating on election matters not to mistake our civility and respect for the rule of law, for ignorance or cowardice. We therefore demand that the judgement in the cases of Senator Bassey Albert, Hon. Unyime Idem and all other cases due for judgement be delivered without any further delay. We urge the noble Justices of the Court of Appeal to do justice according to law and deliver justice, conscious that it is a sacred duty, which they took an oath to perform. They must do justice though the heavens fall (in our experience, we’ve noticed that the heavens have never fallen when justice is done). They should shun those who threaten them with victimization and lure them with speedy elevation to the apex bench. They should be circumspect of political turncoats and opportunists masquerading as statesmen and federal agents, who promise them favours that can rob the judiciary of its nobility. The Justices must remember their sacred roles as ministers in the temple of justice and avoid the shame that their compromise can bring to their name and the noble profession. They must realize that what money cannot do, more money will not do. Integrity cannot be bought with money, no matter the amount.
We recall that it has become traditional for the APC in Akwa Ibom to ignorantly think that a change of panel will automatically guarantee their victory in court, just like they thought that “federal might” and “walking stick” contractors will help them win at the polls. Acting under this evil veil, they blackmailed the National and State Houses of Assembly Tribunal in the state and in one instance got a change of panel, yet, nothing fruitful came out of the process for them, as judgments were serially delivered in favour of PDP candidates, according to law. They wrote several petitions trying to force the Governorship Election Petirion Tribunal to relocate to Abuja but the tribunal Chairman and members informed the authorities that Akwa Ibom was the most peaceful and hospitable state in the federation, a fact they reiterated in open court after their well considered judgement on the petition.
As a party and Respondents in the referred suits, we consider a change of panel outrightly unnecessary there being no justification for such change. While we are not afraid of any panel change since law is near certain and varies not with the skin colour, religion, tribe or surname of the Judge,we are however concerned with the level of indulgence granted the APC and the legality of such an action. We live in a country of law and generally subscribe to the supremacy of law. We would therefore urge the relevant authorities, especially the President of the Court of Appeal to be guided by the law in the discharge of the functions of his office, without partisan considerations, especially with the obvious prevailing circumstances.
In a related development, our attention has also been attracted by various articles, online and in the the traditional media suggesting that the Governor and the party has adopted, endorsed, encouraged or prefers an aspirant in the build up the the 2023 Governorship elections. We wish to state for the records that as a party, the discussion of 2023 is still very unripe and immature at this moment, as the second term of Governor Udom Emmanuel is yet to reach even a year. We urge those trying to stimulate the commencement of the 2023 cycle to instead collaborate with the current administration in the attainment of it’s completion agenda, which holds life touching and land-defining interventions for us as a state. We appeal to our party faithfuls to ignore those peddling these devious rumors of endorsements and strategic support for any alleged aspirant to any office and continue steadfastly in their support for His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel.
Comrade Ini Ememobong
State Publicity Secretary
Peoples Democratic Party
Akwa Ibom State