(News Investigators)/ The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom has attributed the failure of All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Elections Petition Tribunal to lack of due diligence in its processes.
The Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Ini Ememobong, on Monday in Uyo, said that the tribunal dismissed cases instituted by APC because the party could not prove them beyond reasonable doubt.
He advised the party to stop blaming PDP or Chairman of the three-member tribunal, Justice Jennifer Ijohor, for its failure.
According to Ememobong, APC has lost its state House of Assembly election petitions in six local government areas of Ikono, Nsit Ubium, Nsit Ibom, Mkpat Enin, Ibesikpo Asutan, and Ini, and two federal constituencies of Ikono/Ini and Uyo.
He alleged that the APC wrongly filed some of the cases and, having passed the period of filing, the party could not amend them, and therefore, failed to bring the right cases to court.
“It is wrong for the APC to blame Justice Jennifer Ijohor for the decisions taken by the three-member panel.
“The judge was not responsible for the omissions made by the APC counsel who did not comply with the provisions of the law governing election petitions,” he said.
Ememobong argued that the rulings of the tribunal were either by unanimity or majority, adding that the chairman’s vote was not a veto as it carried the same weight as that of the members.
“The state chairman of APC ought to be aware that election petitions are sui generis (of a special type) and therefore, not all the rules of civil procedure apply there.
“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 the cases mentioned by Ini Okopido, APC failed to apply for pre-trial forms, which is in contravention of Electoral Act provisions, and the consequence is trite – the petition must be dismissed for being incompetent.
“On the issue of amendments sought for and denied by the tribunal (not the chairman), the law is specific that after the period allowed for filing a petition, no amendment shall be made except to correct typographical errors.
“The amendments sought by the APC had the capacity to change the tone and character of their petitions and the law clearly forbids this,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that APC had accused Justice Jennifer Ijohor, Chairman of Panel 2, National and State House of Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal, of bias.
Consequently, the party sought that she excused herself from the tribunal on the grounds that her husband, Prof. Anthony Ijohor (SAN), is a PDP stalwart and Secretary to the Benue State Government under a PDP government.
The party claimed that Ijohor’s position as chairman of the tribunal was a clear conflict of interest in her work, arguing that she would not be able to discharge her duties as objectively as expected.