Akwa Ibom senatorial election: APC files petition before NJC

• Claims Appeal panel erred

The ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) has given notice that it would file a petition before the National Judicial Council (NJC) to challenge the judgement of Court of Appeal in Calabar, Cross Rivers state capital.

The Court of Appeal in its judgement has upheld the declaration of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which gave Certificate of Return to Senator Albert Akpan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District election.

But the APC in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Mallam Lanre Isa-Onilu described the judgment as strange as it claimed that it “was delivered in blatant disobedience of the directive of the President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa who had disbanded the appeal panel and constituted a new panel eight clear days before it determined the appeal filed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Hon Bassey Etim, the Party’s senatorial candidate in the 2019 National Assembly election in Akwa Ibom.”

Onilu further revealed that the party legal department would in due course submit a formal petition to the NJC over the judgment which it dismissed as a travesty.

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The statement further read in part: “We will not join issues with the strange “judgement” because as earlier stated, the panel of justices that decided the case and delivered the strange “judgement” was disbanded by the President of the Court of Appeal before the panel began sitting.

“It is even more confounding that the members of the panel had been transferred out of the jurisdiction of this matter. We wonder why a member of a disbanded panel became so interested on a matter before another panel that it had to sit and read out a”judgement” purportedly on behalf of other members of a non-existent panel. We ask, what exactly was at stake?

“We state clearly that any judgment given without jurisdiction is illegal and a nullity.

“The Party urges the Court of Appeal to set aside the strange “judgement” and fix a new date for the hearing of the appeal de novo. In the meantime, it is important that the NJC takes decisive actions to call to order the disbanded justices of the Appeal Court sitting in Calabar. Their actions are strange, alien and dangerous to our judicial system.

“Section 246(3) of the 1999 Constitution, empowers the Court of Appeal as the final law court on National Assembly elections in Nigeria. So our contention is while the power of final decision on petitions arising from National Assembly election rests with the Court of Appeal, proceedings must be conducted by a properly constituted court with due regard for fair hearing.

“We shall pursue the cause of justice on this matter, including filing a formal petition against the members of the panel before the NJC, to logical conclusion.”

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