In a recent development, a coalition of groups in Ebonyi State, including Odimma Ebonyi, Oganihu Ebonyi Movement, Ebonyi Peoples’ Vanguard, Eastern Renaissance Movement, and Worried Nigerian Citizens, has called on the various tribunals handling Governorship, National, and State Assembly Election Petitions in the state to uphold the rule of law. The coalition expressed concern that failure to adhere to the facts and legal principles without resorting to technicalities would set a precedent suggesting that justice can be influenced by the highest bidders.
During a statement on Tuesday night, the coalition’s spokespersons, Engineer Osita Ugoji and Mazi Moses Idika, expressed disappointment and lack of confidence in recent tribunal proceedings. They emphasized the importance of paying close attention to the issues raised in the petitions concerning the Ebonyi State Governorship and National Assembly elections.
The coalition further highlighted that the relocation of the tribunals to Abuja was initially perceived as an effort to provide a neutral ground for petitioners and respondents. However, recent tribunal decisions have raised doubts about the integrity of the process, leading to concerns of underhanded transactions and biased judgments favoring those seeking to manipulate the system.
Drawing attention to the ongoing election petitions, particularly the Ebonyi State Gubernatorial Election and National Assembly Election Petitions, the coalition revealed that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Rt. Hon. Francis Ogbonnia Nwifuru, had previously sworn an affidavit affirming his membership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the Federal High Court. The candidates of the APGA and PDP, Prof. Benard Ifeanyi Odoh and Chief Ifeanyi Chuks Odii, respectively, are challenging Nwifuru’s election on the grounds that he was not validly nominated by the APC due to his PDP membership during the nomination process. The petitioners also contest the use of BVAS for voter accreditation in three local councils: Izzi, Abakaliki, and Ebonyi.
Expressing disappointment, the coalition emphasized the need for the rule of law to be upheld to prevent any miscarriage of justice. They urged Nigerians to recognize the importance of the ongoing election petition tribunals, as the fate of justice lies in the hands of the judges presiding over these cases.
Furthermore, the coalition expressed dissatisfaction with 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. They also raised concerns about allegations that the Tribunal’s secretary was involved in backdating the response of the All Progressives Congress Senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South, Engr David Umahi, to Senator Michael Amah Nnachi’s petition, which was purportedly filed beyond the stipulated time frame.
The coalition viewed the swift dismissal of the Labour Party candidate’s petition as indicative of a predetermined verdict aimed at discrediting a valid petition against electoral malpractice in Ebonyi State. They suspected a tactical move to undermine the morale of the petitioners and discourage their efforts to seek justice.
This latest plea from the coalition highlights the importance of impartial and fair adjudication in electoral matters and calls for a transparent and unbiased resolution to the ongoing election petitions in Ebonyi State.