Justice Jennifer Ijohor has adjourned all Election Petitions currently pending before the National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, Panel 2, Akwa Ibom State. Justice Ijohor of the Benue State High Court is the Chairman of Panel 2 of the Tribunal.
This is in apparent reaction to a Petition addressed to the President of the Court of Appeal by the All Progressives Congress (APC), Akwa Ibom State Chapter. In the Petition dated July 11, 2019, the Party alleged a likelihood of bias against the jurist on account of marriage to a “a well-known, long standing, committed stakeholder and stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State”. Justice Jennifer Ijohor is married to Professor Anthony Ojohor, SAN, Secretary to the Benue State Government (SSG).
The All Progressives Congress (APC), Akwa Ibom State Chapter had recently addressed a Press conference and called on Justice Ijohor to recuse herself from continuing to sit as Chairman of Panel 2 of the Tribunal. It cited instances where Justice Ijohor had given legally indefensible rulings against the Party and its Candidates.
The APC complained that its Candidates had “continued to be at the receiving end of unfavourable decisions from this Panel”. The Party also drew attention to a tweet by Barrister Henry Ijohor Esq who is the son to Justice Ijohor. In his tweet which was posted on 21st March, 2019 at 8.24pm @BarrHenryIjohor, he said: “The judges and Lawyers handling Rivers & Akwa Ibom election Petitions have to be experienced. On the surface it’s obvious they’ll(sic) be a lot of pressure on them and a lot of work to be done.”
In its conclusion on the matter, the Party observed that “my lord Hon. Justice Jennifer Mbalamen Ijohor will be sympathetic to causes and interests that favour the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)”.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expectedly risen in defence of Justice Ijohor. In a Press Statement issued by Publicity Secretary of Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the Party Barrister Ini Ememobong, the Party said the allegations were unfounded. They rather took a swipe at the President of the Court Appeal, whom they claimed “posted ‘himself’ to the (Presidential) panel conscious of the existing political relationship between one of the parties (the Respondent) and his family”.
The decision to adjourn all matters pending before Panel 2 of the Tribunal sine die is being celebrated in APC circles in Akwa Ibom State.