HomePoliticsGroup Fumes Over Relocation Of Abia Tribunal To Govt House

Group Fumes Over Relocation Of Abia Tribunal To Govt House

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Abia Renaissance Movement (ARM) has flayed the relocation of the state Election Petition Tribunal from Abuja to the Government House as a desperate attempt by the Labour Party (LP) to manipulate the process and subvert justice.

In a statement by its convener, Ukachukwu Chukwunonso, and its Secretary General, Maria Nwokoma, in Umuahia, ARM said while it was not in support of any political party, it would speak up against any attempt to manipulate the judicial process to favour any political party against another, saying keeping quiet in the face of injustice negates its cardinal principles of equity, justice and fairness to all.

The group wondered why the tribunal handling an election matter in which the current Abia State government is a defendant be relocated from Abuja to Abia, and to make matters worse, to an office right inside the Government House in Umuahia, when all the circumstances that informed the initial relocation to Abuja are still prevalent.

“We have observed with grave concern the hurried and surreptitious relocation of the Abia State Election Petition Tribunal from Abuja back to Abia State, and wish to state that such a move is not only injurious to democracy but signals a grave danger to justice.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the delicate security situation in Abia State right now as a result of the impudent boasts to unleash mayhem on anyone with contrary political opinions and uncontrolled aggression by the supporters of the government and LP in the state is still ongoing while government officials have issued veiled threats to members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and even unlawfully arrested some appointees of the PDP, are still ongoing.

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“More over, one of the key factors that led to the relocation of the Abia State Election Petition Tribunal to Abuja in the first place was the strike embarked upon by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Abia State chapter, which led to the locking up of courts in the state. The situation means judges cannot sit as the support staff needed for the secure and convenience involved in the dispensation of justice to litigants are not available.”

“One then wonders why the LP in Abia State is so desperate to rush back the relocation of the tribunal from Abuja to the state and manipulated it to hold within premises of Government House in Umuahia when Abuja has all the ingredients, including neutrality, security and availability of judiciary workers to ensure a hitch-free legal process and impartial dispensation of justice to all parties.

“We also wonder how the president of the Court of Appeal could have acceded to such a request and fall for such manipulation by the LP in Abia State when it is obvious that justice cannot be guaranteed in such circumstances, except it is, as we believe, that the justice must have been lied to and hoodwinked by the LP-led government in Abia State.

“Part of the falsehood and idea purportedly sold to the Appeal Court president was to force open relevant courts closed as a result of the strike embarked upon by JUSUN and dominate the state with security personnel as a result of fears of breakdown of law and order that such a forceful opening of courts could cause. Apart from being a gross abuse of the right of the judiciary workers to industrial action when necessary, this, no doubt, will further heighten tension and chaos in the state, especially as judiciary staff are primed to resist such forced opening of the courts. In such a situation, the safety and wellbeing of the honourable judges will be in jeopardy.

“It is our considered opinion that the suggestion to use security agents to force open the courts and the subsequent tension and chaos such an action will generate between the judiciary workers and security agents will amount to the judiciary using agents of the executive to oppress its own workers. This will further malign the judiciary.

“On the part of the litigants, how does one expect PDP candidate who is a party to the case, their leaders and members, their lawyers and supporters who might want to witness the legal proceedings to feel seeing that they will be subjected to all manner of harassment, intimidation and provocation in the name of security checks while trying to make their way to the office inside the Government House where the tribunal has been relocated to?

“Boycott of the proceedings as a result of such impending harassment and intimidation in the name of security check by the security apparatus inside the Government House might just be one of the civil actions available to the PDP governorship candidate, his lawyers, leaders, members and supporters of the party. Should the situation degenerate to that level, it will be an indelible stain on the fabric of the judiciary, and the only way to avoid such a danger is to relocate the tribunal back to Abuja,” ARM said in the statement.

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