Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Strong indications emerged, on Wednesday, that the Anambra State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal may be disbanded following allegations of partiality and incompetence leveled against the panel by the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). Dr. Paul Chukwudi Obianaso.
The tribunal, headed by Hon. Justice H. A. Olisiyi, to entertain petitions arising from the November 18 gubernational election in Anambra State, has only sat twice since its inauguration 14 days to the conduct of the election.
According to the petition to the president of the Appeal Court and to the National Judicial Counsel (NJC), the petitioner, Dr. Paul Chuwkudi Obianaso alleged that, “Whereas the Governorship Election was held in Anambra State, on November 18th, 2017, the Election Petition Tribunal which ought to have been constituted 14 days before the Election and the Registry which ought to have been opened 14th days before the Election, see Part Vii, Sec 133 (31 & b), these provisions were not followed as the Registry opened several weeks after the Election. In the case of the Election Petition Tribunal, formal and proper sitting is yet to commence, some 75 days after the Election”.
“Ironically, the Tribunal has only attempted to sit on two occasions (in the past two weeks) with just one member who on each occasion expressed regrets about the fact that the proceedings could not go on, as he was the only member present. As at today, January 30th, 2018, there is no date set down for the full panel of the Tribunal to hear Petitions brought before it. This is so scandalous, especially in view of the fact that Election Petitions have but a limited life span.
“As things stand now, 75 days are gone, leaving only a very short period for the final determination of any Petition arising from the Anambra November 18th, 2017 Governorship Election”.
Obianaso further alleged that the panel is unwilling to carry out its duties as an unbiased umpire since in the last seventy five days it has not entertained his petition when the statutory days for election tribunal to dispense justice is 180 days insisting;
“That, the Hon. President disbands the Anambra Election Petition Tribunal Panel as presently constituted, including the Secretary, who refused to issue receipt for the four hundred thousand naira deposited into his personal account at his insistence, which money was meant for security for costs, pursuant to Section 3 & 4 of Election Tribunal and Court Practice Directions, 2011 of Electoral Act 2010 as Amended”.
In another petition to the president of the Appeal Court Obianaso contended that;
“Further to the issues raised in the aforementioned Petition, (the implication of which is: a total loss of confidence in the Secretary and Panel members) is is so sad that the Secretary could not confirm (as at today’s date) whether or not the Tribunal has been properly constituted, thereby worsening the sundry irregularities, incompetence, perceived corruption, et al., which has compromised and irredeemably undermined the Tribunal, as it were”.
“For instance, despite the fact that addresses of my Counsel (within jurisdiction) are duly contained in the Petition filed, proper hearing Notices has not been served on my counsel since the Petition was filed. Besides, the Secretary bluntly told me he does not even know when the Panel members are coming nor does he even know their names. In effect, the Tribunal is in abeyance and does not have a Notice Board or Scheduled of sittings. There seem to be a complete disconnection between the Secretary and the Office that sent him”.