The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has dissociated himself from a publication which made allegations against the Chairman and members of the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal in Akwa Ibom State.
The Minister in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Anietie Ekong said Senator Akpabio could not have been privy to the allegations made against the Judicial Officers because as a Senior Member of the Bar and a Party in the matter pending before Their Lordships, he understood the need to allow the Judges to decide the cases according to the facts.
According to the statement, “Moreover, Senator Akpabio as the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs cannot be said to be desperate to win a Senate seat but he is only contesting the outcome of the INEC manipulated results in order to ensure Justice and sustenance of democratic practice in Nigeria.
“Senator Akpabio is shocked by the spurious allegation made by the Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State, Barrister Uwemedimo Nwoko, in a rejoinder to the said article, alleging that he “succumbed to blackmail and handsomely paid Barrister Leo Ekpenyong to recapitulate.” The fact is that Ekpenyong withdrew the petitions against Senator Akpabio voluntarily when his clients made a volte-face and could not substantiate their claims as contained in Ekpenyong’s affidavit which he swore to before a court of law as evidence of voluntary withdrawal of those false petitions. Moreover, Ekpenyong’s client as mentioned in the stated affidavit is linked to the current Government of Akwa Ibom State and its officials.
“As an Elder Statesman, a serving Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, a former Minority Leader of the Nigerian Senate and a former boss to Barrister Nwoko, decorum demands that he accords Senator Akpabio some respect. The Attorney General should substantiate his wild allegation or offer an unreserved apology to Senator Akpabio.
“Senator Akpabio is a democrat who believes in the rule of law, and this informed his decision to approach the Tribunal after the charade by the Mike Igini-led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Akwa Ibom State.
“Having attended many sessions of the Tribunal and indeed testified as a Competent Witness, Senator Akpabio is confident that justice will be done. He has an abiding faith in the judicial system to dispense justice without fear or favour, affection or ill will. He does not believe that any member of the Panel has a propensity to tarnish his hard- earned reputation by engaging in “judgement for sale” as alleged.
“The Attorney General should also have reprimanded his PDP stalwart, Dr Chris Ekpenyong, whose aides have severally alleged on social media of attempts to influence the Panel judges in favour of APC with the sum of N5 billion.
“At the moment, the Honourable Minister is preoccupied with settling down in his new national assignment and would not want to be dragged into a matter he knows nothing about,” the statement said.
The Minister cautioned paid agents of the Akwa Ibom State Government to allow the Judges to dispense justice without fear or favour since, according to him, the continuous and relentless sponsored adverts, were aimed at creating fear, intimidation and were capable of truncating the popular will of the people freely given to the APC.