Says delay in hearing his petition threatens delivery of justice
Political battle over the representation of Imo North Senatorial District at the National Assembly recorded a new twist yesterday, as Senator Athan Achonu (PDP) decried what he called the unceremonious disbandmant of the National and State Houses of Assembly Election Tribunal in Owerri.
Achonu, who represented the district at the Senate from June, 2015 until the election was nullified and re-conducted to bring in Senator Ben Uwajumogu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, announced that he had petitioned the Appeal Court President, Zainab Bulkachuwa, because of what he called the suspicious disbandmant of the Election Petition Panel.
Achonu, in a petition which he sent to the Appeal Court president through his lawyer, K.C.O. Njemanze, drew attention to the fact that timeliness was of essence in the case, just as he pointed out that intelligence report available to him suggested that his opponents might take undue advantage of the disbandmant of the panel.
After the conduct of a re-run election in which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared Uwajumogu winner, Achonu had taken INEC, the APC and Uwajumogu to the National and State Houses of Assembly Petitions Tribunal in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
His petition against the disbandment of the tribunal which had Justice Geraldine Ono Imadegbelo as chairman reads in part: “While the pre-trial session was still going on, our client continued to receive information and reports of clandestine and or subterranean moves by his opponents and their supporters to truncate and or frustrate the hearing and determination of this petition and the grand design including to disband the panel, inordinately delay the setting up of a fresh panel and where a fresh panel is constituted, it shall be at such a time that the petitioner would be stampeded and prevented from calling necessary witnesses to establish his case.
“We were all surprised when on October 10, the secretary to the panel orally announced in court that the panel has been disbanded by your lordship. Our client is worried and saddened by this development in view of information and intelligence reports available to him on the grand design of his opponents and recent developments which include the non-setting up of a panel to hear and determine his petition many days after the first panel was disbanded.”
Achonu drew attention to the fact that “election petitions are time sensitive and must be heard and determined within the time stipulated by law. Therefore, the delay in setting up a new panel is adversely affecting the interest of our client and cannot be said to be in the interest of justice.”
He demanded for a fair trial of his petition “within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial panel as guaranteed by the constitution.”