Wednesday, December 23, 2015 1:59 pm
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, has ordered the relocation of the appeal panel sitting on the Delta State Governorship Election Petition from Benin to Abuja, amidst report that the panel was compromised.
A competent source from the Court of Appeal Headquarters in Abuja, confirmed the relocation today.
“I can confirm to you that the panel will no longer sit in Benin, it has been moved to Abuja by the President. The court will officially communicate this decision to the parties when a date has been fixed for the next sitting of the panel,’’ the source said.
An official of the court of appeal in Benin had dropped the hint of the relocation before the confirmation at the headquarters.
A Front Desk Officer at the division, who also pleaded anonymity, had told NAN correspondent in Benin that the sitting of the panel had been moved to Abuja.
The panel had on Dec. 17 concluded hearing in an appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate Olorogun O’ tega Emerhor.
The appellants are asking the panel to upturn the verdict of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal for Delta, which upheld the election of Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The panel had reserved its judgment in the appeal to a date to be communicated to parties.
Also on Monday, the panel reserved judgement in the appeal by candidate of Labour Party, LP, Chief Great Ogboru and Labour Party, praying the appellate court to set aside the decision of the Justice N. T. Gunmi-led governorship election petition tribunal in Asaba.
The tribunal had on October 25, upheld the declaration of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as winner of the April 11 election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, but the appellants are contending that the judges erred in law.
Ogboru, in the appeal through his counsel, Mr. Dele Adesina, SAN, is further contending that if the lower tribunal had properly evaluated evidence brought before it by the petitioner, it would have arrived at a different decision.
It is expected that judgement in the two cases will be delivered in Abuja.
But with the relocation of the panel and reports that the Court of Appeal President had reconstituted the panel, the appeal may be heard all over again and a new judgement day fixed.
Saharareporters said Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, president of the Court of Appeal sacked the five man panel made up of Justice J.O. Bada, Justice P.M. Ekpe, Justice H.A. Barka, Justice M.N. Oniyiangi, and Justice U.A. Ogakwu.
New judges comprising Justice Mrs Uwani Abba-Aji (Chairman), Justice Tom Yakubu, Justice Mohammed Danjuma, Justice I.O. Akeju, and Justice (Mrs) Bolaji-Yusuf have been constituted to hear the appeal.