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Alleged election tribunals conspiracy: group calls for independent probe

HURIWA National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko

Image: HURIWA National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko

*Faults dominance of court hierarchy by a section of Nigeria*

A frontline Non-governmental organization – Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) has demanded an independent investigations of the widespread allegations of collusion and conspiratorial plots between the All Progressives Congress -led Federal Government and the hierarchy of the nation’s court system to derail the democratically inaugurated state administrations in the Southern States of Rivers and Akwa Ibom through subterfuge and deception.

Besides, the Rights group has also faulted the current status quo whereby the key figures heading the various national hierarchies of the Nigerian judicial system such as the Chief Justice of the Federation; the President of the Nigerian Court of Appeal and the Chief Judge of Federal High Court of Nigeria coming from one section of the country in a country with diversities and with half a dozen geopolitical zones. 

HURIWA said it is against the law of equity and indeed the Constitutional Federal Character Principle, for Northern Nigeria to produce the leaderships of all the branches of the court system in Nigeria at a time that mutual distrust is at its dangerous peak just as the group has called for immediate remedial measures to introduce equity and fairness in these judicial hierarchies. 

HURIWA said it’s an anomaly that such a constitutional breach of the Federal Character principle as enshrined in Section 14 (3) has been allowed to endure in the judicial arm of government that ought to operate as the custodian of our laws. 

HURIWA recalled that currently the only existing national hierarchies of the Nigerian Judiciary are headed by persons from Northern Nigeria as follows: Justice Mahmud Mohammed as the Chief Justice of Nigeria; Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa as President of the Nigerian Court of Appeal and Justice Ibrahim Auta as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court. 

The group said a way must be found to infuse equity and balance in the composition of the heads of these key branches of our Court System in order to redress the inherent imbalance and gross violation of the Federal Character principle. 

HURIWA reminded the leadership of the Nigerian Court System that even the Coat of Arm of Nigeria  adopted on May 20th 1960 which emphatically preaches Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress is against the extant breach of the Federal Character principle in the composition of the hierarchies of the three significant units of the Judicial Arm of Government because the concentration of these key decision making positions to individuals from a particular zone of the Country will rather than  engender unity and peace has created chasms and distrust amongst Nigerians. 

In a statement signed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said it was deeply concerned by the widening spectre of confusion, arguments and counter arguments between the national ruling party -All Progressives Congress and the opposition party – Peoples Democratic Party on one hand and a section of the Judiciary and the National hierarchy of the Peoples Democratic Party  (PDP) on the other hand over a groundswell of  allegations of unfairness in the annulment of the April 2015 governorship elections in the PDP controlled Rivers and Akwa Ibom States by the election petition Tribunals.  

HURIWA said it was troubling that few weeks after the opposition party alleged that the APC-LED Federal government was deploying the Department of State Service to collude with the election petition’s Tribunals to unseat the governors of Rivers and Akwa Ibom States  ( two Oil rich States whereby PDP reportedly trounced the All Progressives Congress in the last election), the Election Tribunals either by happenstance or coincidence indeed nullified partly the governorship poll in Akwa Ibom State and totally voided that of Rivers State.  

HURIWA said that these suspicious and too much of a coincidence must be investigated by an independent commission of investigators to uncover the veracity or otherwise of the widely held perception wrongly or rightly of a conspiracy by the APC national government to undermine some electoral victories scored by the PDP using the services of the heads of the different branches of the judiciary who incidentally are from the same geopolitical zone same as the President and the key hierarchy of the Secret Police. HURIWA also wants the DSS investigated over the invasion of the Akwa Ibom governor’s guest house shortly after the PDP raised alarm. 

The Rights group said it wasn’t enough that these allegations  and denials are flying around the media circles but that the best pragmatic approach to lay to rest the unprecedented distrust that has built up since over the  weekend that the election Tribunal ordered fresh elections in Rivers State by nullifying the electoral  victory reportedly scored by governor Nyesom Wike’s Peoples Democratic Party and also the decision last week partly nullifying the election  of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom produced by the PDP.

HURIWA said: “Nigerian State must set up in motion machinery to independently investigate the allegations of foul play by the Election petition Tribunals and if any of the Judges are found wanting then the indicted official must be made to face the full weight of the law. Let the Federal government not use her vantage position to deploy brute force to suppress political opposition.  

For peace to reign in Nigeria and for Justice and Progress of our democratization process to endure, let a totally non -partisan panel be constituted made up of criminological scholars, faith based leaders from all sections and credible civil society leaders to in an open and transparent manner probe all the allegations against the Election Tribunals including the speculation in the grapevine that the Chairman of the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal is related by Marriage to the Wife of Mr. President. ” 

By Emmanuel Onwubiko

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