Prompted and induced by the PDP, Justice F. O. Rinman of the Federal High Court, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State is about to create a major judicial anarchy. The judge will this week give an order barring the President of the Court of Appeal from performing one of its statutory functions which is deciding the venue of the sitting of the Akwa Ibom Election Petition Tribunal. When this order is granted, Justice F O Rinman would have succeeded in pitching the Federal High Court against the Court of Appeal, which is a superior court, and in the process could create one of the most embarrassing judicial crises in the country. How did Justice Rinman dabble into this?
Soon after the governorship election on March 9, the PDP filed a motion in the federal high court, Uyo, against the President of the Court of Appeal and the Honourabe Attorney General of the Federation, seeking an Order of the court to bar the President of the Court of Appeal from relocating the sitting of the Election Petition Tribunal from Uyo to Abuja. Nobody knows what prompted the PDP to file this strange and curious application. From enquiries, however, we learned that the PDP had fabricated an unsigned letter purportedly written by the Akwa Ibom State Chairman of the APC requesting the Attorney General of the Federation to relocate the Tribunal to Abuja. On the basis of this forged document, the PDP then sought an ex parte order against the President of the Court of Appeal and the Attorney General of the Federation. The fact that the document was forged explains why the APC was not joined as a party to the motion filed by the PDP.
We are also aware that Mr Emmanuel Enoidem, the National Legal Adviser of the PDP who filed the motion, is already boasting to Gov. Udom Emmanuel and other party chieftains that the President of the Court of Appeal and the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation ‘have been caged because the federal high court in Uyo is with me’. Enoidem is bragging that Justice Rinman will never deny him the order. Barr. Goddy Umoh, another PDP lawyer in the State, is equally going around telling his party members about the ability of their legal team to influence Justice Rinman.
We recall that Justice F. O. Rinman has been repeatedly used by the PDP and the Akwa Ibom State Government in procuring numerous injunctions against the federal government and its agencies. For instance, it was this same judge that had since 2017 granted an order barring the EFCC from investigating the accounts of the state government.
We wish to state categorically that it is only the President of the Court of Appeal that is statutorily and constitutionally empowered to appoint members of the Election Petition Tribunals. Based on verifiable security reasons, the President of the Court of Appeal may relocate the sitting of any of the Panels. We are aware that there have been several cases of violence in Akwa Ibom before and during the last elections. Such incidents include the burning of INEC office in Nung Udoe; the burning of vehicles and killings of people in Obot Akara LGA, the shooting of APC aspirant in Uruan; the shootings of voters in Nsit Atai and many others. It would be recalled that similar acts of violence in the state in 2015 led to the relocation of the Tribunals to Abuja.
National League for Promotion of Justice, Democracy and Equity