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Rivers Guber Polls: PDP,  AAC Reject Reconstitution  Of Election Petition Tribunal

…As Court Orders Appeal Court To Stay Action To Set up New Panel

…It’s Intended To Subvert Wheel Of Justice – PDP

…Awara, On His Own – AAC

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and African Action Congress (AAC) yesterday kicked against a plot to reconstitute the Rivers State Governorship Election petition Tribunal.

…As Court Orders Appeal Court To Stay Action To Set up New Panel

…It’s Intended To Subvert Wheel Of Justice – PDP

…Awara, On His Own – AAC

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and African Action Congress (AAC) yesterday kicked against a plot to reconstitute the Rivers State Governorship Election petition Tribunal.

The parties in separate statements issued on Monday said that such a plot violates the order of the Court of Appeal and taints the integrity of its President.

Kicking against the plot, AAC National Chairman, Dr. Leonard Nzenwa disclosed that the leadership of the party had intercepted a letter written by one Mr. Tawo E. Tawo, SAN on behalf Mr. Awara Biokpomabo Festus, the governorship candidate of its Party in the 2019 general election without consultation with the Party.

Recall that sometimes ago, the party had sacked its former National Chairman and presidential candidate of the party, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.

Disclosing further about the plot to reconstitute the tribunal, Nzenwa said, “the leadership of the Party has intercepted a letter written by one Mr Tawo E. Tawo, SAN on behalf Mr. Awara Biokpomabo Festus the governorship candidate of our Party at the 2019 general election without consultation with the Party and without notice to all other parties involved in the election Petition to the President of the Court of Appeal seeking the reconstitution of the Panel.

“It will be recalled that following unexplained circumstances, the first panel headed by Justice G.K. Kaigama originally set up to hear Governorship election petitions in Rivers State and which commenced sitting on 7th May 2019 stopped sitting on 17th June 2019 when a second panel was announced.

“This second panel headed by Justice K. A. Ojiako commenced sitting on 19th June 2019. It is this panel yet again that the Mr. Awara working with persons who are not members of our Party but who have hijacked his governorship race seeks to disband and requesting for a new panel.

“We have at various fora complained about the hijack of the governorship ambition and race of Mr. Awara. Our worry is that while we do not have any worries anymore with what Mr. Awara does with his personal life, it is our worry and challenge that in this obnoxious plot by Mr. Awara and his paymasters, they have at every time dragged the good name of our great party into their evil plot.”

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the other hand, also raised the alarm, drawing the attention of Nigerians to what it says is a mischievous plot to illegally change the panel of the Rivers State Election Tribunal for the third time since it started sitting on the petition filed by the Governorship Candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Engr. Biokpomabo Awara.

The PDP said it heard it on good authority that there is a plot to change the panel for the third time, contrary to the judgment of the Court of Appeal that directed the current Tribunal to hear the petition expeditiously.

“We are calling on Nigerians to take firm notice of this illegal plot to subvert justice because pre-hearing of the petition was concluded on 7th September, 2019 with the full hearing of the petition to commence on September 9th, 2019”, it noted in the Statement.

The party went on: “It is instructive to note that during the proceedings of 6th September, 2019, counsel to the Governorship candidate of the AAC, admitted before the Tribunal that he misled the President of the Court of Appeal with the misinformation contained in his petition.  He apologized to the Tribunal for the misinformation”.

The PDP said it is shocked that despite the apology rendered by Mr. Awara's counsel, the President of the Court of Appeal is still going ahead to change the panel of the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal for the third time.

Stressing the party's worries by this “unfortunate desperation to subvert the will of justice in the petition filed by the Governorship Candidate of the AAC in Rivers State, the PDP urged the President of the Court of Appeal not to allow herself to be misled into subverting justice.

Meanwhile, a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the President of the Court of Appeal, the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, Defeated Governorship Candidate of African Action Congress ( AAC), Biokpomabo Awara,  INEC and others not to take any steps that that will render nugatory the outcome of an originating summons filed before it.

Ruling on Suit Number: FHC/PH/CS/203/2019 filed by the African Action Congress ( AAC) against the President of the Court of Appeal, the Rivers State Election Tribunal, Defeated Governorship Candidate of African Action Congress ( AAC), Biokpomabo Awara, INEC and others for the interpretation of Section 233 (1), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Justice  J.K Omotosho declared: "That all parties in this suit are hereby ordered not to make any act or take any steps that will render this suit nugatory or overreach the outcome of the originating summons.

"That the originating summons is hereby adjourned is hereby adjourned till the 13th day of September, 2019 for hearing.

"That if this matter is not ripe for hearing on the 13th of September, 2019 as a result of the failure on the part of the plaintiff, this court will not hesitate to strike out this suit as time is of the essence in post election matters".

The court granted leave that the suit filed by the AAC be heard during the 2019 vacation period of the Court.

Justice Omotosho ordered: "That the originating summons shall be served on all parties within 24hours from today.

"That the respondents shall respond to the originating summons within 72hours of Service of same on them.

"That the plaintiff shall reply to the response of the defendants within 24hours of being served with the response of the defendants.

"That the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal that sat on 7th of September 2019 is not precluded from continuing its proceedings ".

Justice Omotosho further ordered that: "That the pending suit shall not stop the said Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal that sat on the 7th of September 2019 from continuing its proceedings ".

The defendants in the suit include: the President of the Court of Appeal, the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, Defeated Governorship Candidate of African Action Congress ( AAC), Biokpomabo Awara, INEC , Rivers State Governor,  Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and the PDP.

The court made the ruling upon reading the nine paragraphs affidavit in support of motion ex-parte sworn to by Wisdom Thompson and after hearing Henry Bello (Esq) , counsel to the AAC.

The AAC in its originating  summons is seeking a declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 233 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the President of the Court of Appeal is not conferred with the powers to review the judgments of the Court of Appeal.

The AAC is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the President of Court of Appeal from reviewing the judgments of the Court of Appeal by setting up a new panel based on a letter by the defeated Governorship Candidate of AAC in Rivers State, Engr Biokpomabo Awara.

The AAC further sought an order of the Federal High Court setting aside any administrative directive of the President of the Court of Appeal for the setting up of the said new Panel of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal.

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the President of the Court of Appeal, the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, Defeated Governorship Candidate of African Action Congress ( AAC), Biokpomabo Awara,  INEC and others not to take any steps that that will render nugatory the outcome of an originating summons filed before it.

Ruling on Suit Number: FHC/PH/CS/203/2019 filed by the African Action Congress ( AAC) against the President of the Court of Appeal, the Rivers State Election Tribunal,  Defeated Governorship Candidate of African Action Congress ( AAC), Biokpomabo Awara, INEC and others for the interpretation of Section 233 (1), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Justice  J.K Omotosho declared: "That all parties in this suit are hereby ordered not to make any act or take any steps that will render this suit nugatory or overreach the outcome of the originating summons.

"That the originating summons is hereby adjourned is hereby adjourned till the 13th day of September, 2019 for hearing.

"That if this matter is not ripe for hearing on the 13th of September, 2019 as a result of the failure on the part of the plaintiff, this court will not hesitate to strike out this suit as time is of the essence in post election matters".

The court granted leave that the suit filed by the AAC be heard during the 2019 vacation period of the Court.

Justice Omotosho ordered: "That the originating summons shall be served on all parties within 24hours from today.

"That the respondents shall respond to the originating summons within 72hours of Service of same on them.

"That the plaintiff shall reply to the response of the defendants within 24hours of being served with the response of the defendants.

"That the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal that sat on 7th of September 2019 is not precluded from continuing its proceedings ".

Justice Omotosho further ordered that: "That the pending suit shall not stop the said Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal that sat on the 7th of September 2019 from continuing its proceedings ".

The defendants in the suit include: the President of the Court of Appeal, the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, Defeated Governorship Candidate of African Action Congress ( AAC), Biokpomabo Awara, INEC , Rivers State Governor,  Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and the PDP.

The court made the ruling upon reading the nine paragraphs affidavit in support of motion ex-parte sworn to by Wisdom Thompson and after hearing Henry Bello (Esq) , counsel to the AAC.

The AAC in its originating summons is seeking a declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 233 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the President of the Court of Appeal is not conferred with the powers to review the judgments of the Court of Appeal.

The AAC is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the President of Court of Appeal from reviewing the judgments of the Court of Appeal by setting up a new panel based on a letter by the defeated Governorship Candidate of AAC in Rivers State, Engr Biokpomabo Awara.

The AAC further sought an order of the Federal High Court setting aside any administrative directive of the President of the Court of Appeal for the setting up of the said new Panel of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal.