Parties bicker over relocation of Rivers elections tribunal to Abuja

Port Harcourt—Some political parties in Rivers are on a collision course over the relocation of the Rivers State Elections Petitions Tribunal to Abuja.

Punch reports that a source at the tribunal who pleaded anonymity because he does not have the authorization to speak confirmed the relocation of the tribunal to Abuja to our correspondent on Friday afternoon.

The source, “Yes, it is true we are moving to Abuja hopefully by next week. It is the reason for insecurity mainly, particularly the recent kidnap of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Okey Wali.

“The incident that took place at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Port Harcourt by some political parties also came up.

“So the office (tribunal) feels that we don’t need to take any chances because life is very precious.”

This comes two weeks after the tribunal started receiving petitions from different political parties and candidates in the state with 76 petitions so far received challenging the elections won by the Peoples Democratic Party.

While the All Progressives Congress said the relocation is cheering to its members, the PDP said it was inconsequential.

The spokesman of the state APC 2023 Governorship Campaign Council, Sogbeye Eli, said it will check the rascality of the ruling party in the state.

Eli stated, “This is not the first time it has happened. For us, it is allowing the principles of justice to come to play. You know under our laws, justice must be seen to be done.

“And one of the ways to ensure that justice is done is to allow for a free and unfettered administration of justice.

“Witnesses coming to testify must be at absolute liberty without any fear of intimidation, threat or harassment.

“Lawyers who will participate in the trial must have the liberty to canvass their arguments from the bar. The judges who are sitting in the tribunal must have the unfettered liberty to exercise justice following the law.”

But the spokesperson of the PDP in the state, Sydney Gbara, said the party has nothing to fear because it won the 2023 elections convincingly.

According to Gbara, “The relocation of the tribunal to Abuja is not a threat to the PDP in Rivers State because our candidates won all their elections fair and square in the various polling units across the state.

“So the relocation of the tribunal is not a problem to us as long as the judges will serve justice based on merit, equity and fairness.”

On his part, the spokesman of the Social Democratic Party Governorship Campaign Council, Dr Bethel Jaja, said his party believes that the judges will be fair to all petitioners irrespective of the location of the sitting.

Jaja stated, “I believe that whether they are in Port Harcourt or not, those who are very steadfast and firm in ensuring that the right is done will not be unnecessarily induced by anybody. I don’t think so.

“I believe that the eminent personalities in that tribunal will be able to do the right thing and administer justice as it is supposed to be. I have confidence in them.”

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