Cross Rivers State chapter of the Labor Party (LP) has made public its intention to institute a legal action against President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa. They are joined by members of the Cross Rivers State Election Petitions Tribunal, presided over by Justice A O. Adeniyi.
This threat came sequel to Justice Bulkachuwa’s self-disqualification on Monday from handling five petitions initiated by candidates of the LP questioning the declaration of candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winners of senatorial and House of Representatives elections held on March 28, 2015.
Specifically, the tribunal in its judgment declared that all the proceedings before the tribunal as at October 5, 2015, including previous judgments delivered under the chairmanship of Justice Christopher Awubra, were “null and void and of no effect” because it lacked jurisdiction having not been properly constituted since Awubra was not qualified to be chairman of the tribunal given his status as a judge of the Customary Court of Appeal.
The party insisted that it would challenge the judgments of the tribunal at the Court of Appeal with the intention of setting them aside.
LP also contended that the inclusion of appointment of a customary court judge to be chairman of the tribunal couldn’t have been a mistake.
The party said, “We as a political party are very familiar with the schemes of desperate politicians who rig elections by various means, including violence to ensure that they ”˜win’ at all cost. Indeed, these politicians see politics as a do or die affair and employ all methods including active connivance with the electoral umpires to foist themselves upon the people. Sadly, we are all very familiar with the unfortunate situation of Nigerian elections.
“However, while we are familiar with the problems of politicians, nothing could prepare us for the rigging by the Judiciary.
“Until very recently, we still had a sliver of hope in the courts as the last hope of the common man, which hope has now been dashed most cruelly in the most horrific way that is even stranger than fiction.
“Whereas the constitution clearly spells out the qualifications of persons to be appointed as chairmen and members of election petition panels, the President of the Court of Appeal appointed a person, Justice Awubra, who did not meet the requirements, the chairman of the tribunal in Calabar panel 1.
“Justice Awubra himself, knowing that he was not qualified accepted the appointment and presided over the entire petitions only for the panel to deliver a ruling at the end saying that the entire proceedings are a nullity due to the non-qualification of the chairman! Every single petition in that panel numbering well over 15 have been caught up in this mess.
“What we have is akin to a situation whereby you fail even before you start. Surely the rot in the system is not this bad? Or else what kind of country do we live in? What manner of persons are appointed judges? Why can’t people just do their jobs for which huge public funds are being expended in their wages? How can judges in whose bosom the law resides and who swear to uphold the constitution make such a ”˜mistake’?
“Indeed we do not believe this was an honest mistake, no. We believe that judges have now become the best tools with which failed and unpopular politicians exploit. We are outraged.
“Even though we are laymen, we know that a cardinal principle of justice is that where there’s an injury, there must be a remedy. We will not accept this daylight robbery, we refuse to be helpless. Accordingly, we have instructed our lawyers to explore all available means of redress including appealing the judgments, suing the President of the Court of Appeal and all the members of the panel who wasted valuable time and resources, presiding over a kangaroo tribunal deceiving hapless members of the public.”