An Ebonyi Coalition group operating under the auspices of Odimma Ebonyi, Oganihu Ebonyi Movement, Ebonyi Peoples’ Vanguard, Eastern Renaissance Movement and Worried Nigerian Citizens, has urged the various tribunals handling the Governorship, National and State Assembly Election Petitions in Ebonyi State, to uphold the rule of law.
According to the coalition, unless the Election Petitions Tribunal kept to the facts and law without any recourse to technicalities, they would be setting wrong precedents that justice is up for the highest bidders in the eyes of the people.
The Coalition lamented that recent happenings in the tribunal did not inspire confidence and hope.
Its spokespersons, Engineer Osita Ugoji and Mazi Moses Idika, said this in a statement on Tuesday night, urging Nigerians to pay closer attention to the issues being pleaded in the Ebonyi State Governorship and National Assembly election petitions.
They further opined that when the Tribunals were moved to Abuja, the general impression was that the justices wanted a neutral ground to ensure easy access for petitioners and respondents.
According to the statement, “However, we are worried by recent decisions taken by the tribunal, which leaves the impression that the movement to Abuja was to dispose the tribunals sitting for under-hand transactions and easy reach by those who are determined to perpetuate state capture.
“We are therefore calling on Nigerians to pay close attention to issues being canvassed by petitioners at the various election petition tribunals, especially the Ebonyi State Gubernatorial Election and National Assembly Election Petitions.
“It is on record that the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election who has been sworn into office, Rt. Hon. Francis Ogbonnia Nwifuru, swore to an affidavit averring his membership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the Federal High Court.
“The APGA and PDP Governorship candidates in the March 18 election, Prof. Benard Ifeanyi Odoh and Chief Ifeanyi Chuks Odii respectively, are challenging the election of Nwifuru on the grounds that the APC candidate was not properly validly nominated by APC being a member of PDP during the nomination process.
“Also, the petitioner claims that the BVAS was not used to accredit voters in three local councils of Izzi, Abakaliki an Ebonyi. We do not know how the learned Justices would handle the matter, but our concern is that the rule of law should be upheld to avoid a miscarriage of justice. As the saying goes, parties to every suit in court know the facts and the truth, it is the judge that is on trial.”
The Coalition expressed displeasure over the inexplicable dismissal of the petition filed by the Labour Party candidate for the Abakaliki/Izzi Federal Constituency, Dr. Eze Emmanuel Eze, by the Tribunal, last Friday.
It also decried alleged reports that the Tribunal’s secretary was programmed to backdate the All Progressives Congress Senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South, Engr David Umahi’s response to Senator Michael Amah Nnachi’s petition, which was allegedly filed outside of time.
The Coalition observed that the hasty dismissal of the LP candidate’s petition suggested a pre-arranged verdict to rubbish a credible petition against the electoral heist in Ebonyi as well as a tactical move to demoralise the petitioners.