By Harris Emmanuel
UYO—Again, All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have engaged in war of words over the location of Elections Petition Tribunal in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
APC had, in a petition addressed to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, raised the alarm over alleged collusion of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mike Igini, with PDP to destroy electoral materials ahead of the commencement of the tribunal.
On its part, state Chairman of PDP, Paul Ekpo, in a letter written to the President of the Court of Appeal, accused APC of planning to instigate violence to necessitate the relocation of the tribunal to the nation’s capital.
APC said the immediate relocation of the elections tribunal to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, would forestall breakdown of law and order and reiterate the call for the immediate redeployment of Igini to pave way for a level-playing field for all parties that partook in the elections.
It said: “We observe with deep regrets that since Igini superintended over the worst general election ever conducted in Akwa Ibom State, that was fraught with manifest irregularities and wide spread electoral infractions, the REC is now unveiling a grand scheme to thwart and create a chaotic environment to pave way for the perversion of justice.
APC alleges assassination plot
“We have been reliably informed that the REC is now intimidating electoral officers who participated in the just-concluded general election in the state, particularly collation officers, supervisory presiding officers, presiding officers and assistant presiding officers, handing over their phone numbers to hired assassins and PDP killer squad to forcefully coerce them to concoct and fabricate false reports of violence, ballot papers snatching;
“All in a bid to justify the clandestine activities of Mr. Mike Igini days after the purported declaration of results, seeing that unit results will expressly show that candidates of All Progressives Congress, APC, clearly won the elections by the votes directly delivered at the polling units across the state.”
PDP says no threat, lists cost of tribunal in Abuja
PDP on its part, said there was no security threat in Akwa Ibom State and there can be none, except with the active complicity of the Police and as such there was no justification for the call by APC for the relocation of the tribunal.
Ekpo said: “My Noble Lord, while we know that the location of a court cannot substantially affect the ratio decidendi and the ultimate judgment of the court, we are concerned about the cost at which justice will be accessed.
“Four years ago, at the instigation of APC, all the election tribunals were relocated to Abuja. Litigants suffered untold hardship and difficulty in the transportation and accommodation of their witnesses.
“The witnesses themselves suffered from illnesses occasioned by sharp weather changes, accidents and other innumerable pains.
“At the end of that exercise, the judgments that could have been given at Uyo, were still given in different remote parts of Abuja, but the cost of accessing that justice was humongous.
“Justice is not meant for the rich only, it is also meant to serve the poor; therefore, administrators of justice have a duty to make the cost of accessing justice as minimal as possible.”
He urged His Lordship to discountenance the call by APC to relocate the Elections Petition Tribunal for Akwa Ibom State to Abuja, as it was meant to provoke and irritate other parties to the suit.