By Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA—There was drama, Monday, inside the courtroom hosting the Abia State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, when the Chairman of the main opposition party in the State, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Rev. Augustine Ehiemere openly disowned a newspaper publication bearing his name and signature, saying he was not the author and that he was not aware of it.
APGA had in some advertorial publications in a national daily, [not Vanguard] protested the decisions of the of the national and state assemblies tribunals, most of which had gone in favour of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and accused the justices of the tribunals of being compromised.
The publication pointedly accused the judges of the Election Petition Tribunal of having been bribed and compromised with property in far away America in return for favourable judgments for the PDP candidates.
In one of the publications by APGA signed by the Chairman, the party had alleged that “huge sums of money in form of gratification have exchanged hands between the PDP leadership in the state and cronies of the justices.
“Some of the judges were allegedly responding in line with the dictates of the lucre as evidenced in the current dismissing of all petitions filed by our party against the PDP candidates. The bribe funds, we understood, were delivered to the judges outside the country and through proxies in order to leave no traces.”
Questioning the character and integrity of the justices of the tribunals, APGA had in one of the publications, called for the “trial, jailing and execution of the judges,” saying, “there should be no space for corrupt judges in the present Nigeria. It is not enough to just retire them, they must be tried and if found guilty, jailed or even shot to death as the people of Ghana are asking their President to do,” PDP reacted.
Worried by the weighty allegation, lead counsel to Governor Okezies Ikpeazu, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), at Monday’s sitting of the governorship petition, drew the attention of the tribunal to the publication, which he said was “uncharitable” and could “denigrate the integrity of the tribunal.”
Based on Olanipekun’s report, the Chairman of the governorship tribunal, Justice Usman Bwala asked for the chairman of APGA to hear from him. But sensing danger, Ehiemere attempted to sneak out of the court hall but was prevented by PDP lawyers and supporters.
When he was confronted by the tribunal chairman on the publication, the party chairman denied knowledge and authorship of the publications which bore his names and signature.
Justice Bwala frowned at such publications and cautioned all the parties in the petition to refrain from sponsoring uncharitable publications that might denigrate the integrity of the tribunal and warned that appropriate measures would be taken against offenders.
Meantime, the National and State Assemblies Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia has nullified the election of Mr. Emeka Nnamani of All Progressive Grand Alliance [APGA], representing Aba North State Constituency, saying that he was ab initio not qualified to contest the election held on April 11, 2015.