Parties clash as Rivers election tribunal relocates to Abuja

Political parties in Rivers State are at loggerheads over the relocation of the Rivers State Elections Petitions Tribunal to Abuja.

POLITICS NIGERIA reports that the relocation was confirmed on Friday afternoon by a source at the tribunal.

The source said: “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.”

The relocation occurred just two weeks after the tribunal started receiving petitions from different political parties and candidates in the state. It is understood that so far, the tribunal has received a total of 76 petitions challenging the elections won by the Peoples Democratic Party.

While the All Progressives Congress (APC) has expressed delight over the relocation, stating that it will check the alleged misconduct of the ruling party in the state, the PDP has described it as insignificant.

Sogbeye Eli, the spokesperson for the APC 2023 Governorship Campaign Council, remarked that the relocation is a positive development for APC members.

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.”

Reacting, 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.”

In his reaction, 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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