IS JUSTICE SERVED OR JUDGEMENT DELIVERED?

It is no longer news that the National/State Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Uyo and chaired by Honourable Justice Jennifer Ijohor has delivered judgment in four Petitions pending before it. The Petitions are those of Hon. Bassey Etim v. Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, Victor Antai v. Hon. Nse Ekpenyong and Hon. Emmanuel Ukoette v. Unyime Idem. Ekerette Ekpenyong v Michael Eyong All the decisions, expectedly, went in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

On July 11, 2019, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Akwa Ibom State Chapter had petitioned the Honourable President of the Court of Appeal to relieve Justice Jennifer Ijohor of her position as Chairman of Panel 2 of National/State Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal. The Party cited several facts which strongly suggested that His Lordship may be prejudiced and constrained to dispense justice to all parties without bias in view of her well-documented relationship with a “well-known, long standing, committed stakeholder and stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State”.

The APC had also cited instances in the course of the proceedings where decisions of His Lordship clearly portrayed him as high-handed thereby placing APC and its candidates at a disadvantage.

In obvious reaction to APC’s petition, Justice Ijohor was partially relieved of her initial responsibilities and Panel 2 that his Lordship chaired disbanded. He was however asked to deliver judgements in the cases which had been heard and concluded by panel 2. As expected, the judgments came in torrents, and rapidly too.

The hallmark of every judgment is that it serves and convey justice or a semblance of justice. Judgement without justice as served by His Lordship is a mere authoritative declaration lacking legitimacy in the eye of discerning minds. Justice is rooted in the rule of law, truth and confidence. What impression does the generality of the society hold of a given judicial decision? Does the majority believe that justice has been served? This is doubtful in the instant case, with all due respect!

Considering that members of the Tribunal arrived the venue of the sitting in a commando-like fashion, proceeded to deliver their judgments hastily and sped off immediately thereafter without allowing Counsel the opportunity to say a word or even extend courtesies, speaks volumes of their troubled conscience. We take solace in the time-tested classic of the Islamic scholar, Usman Dan Fodio (1754 – 1816) who wrote that “conscience is an open wound; only the truth can heal”.
It is our firm belief that Honourable Justice Jennifer Ijohor (Panel 2) carries with it an open sore that will get healed only by the truth.
We are incensed by this miscarraige of justice but however not surprised at the outcome of these premeditated decisions. We also do not begrudge those who find it convenient to jubilate in the face of travesty of justice. Afterall, burglers celebrate their loot after a successful operation. We salute the doggedness of our Candidates and encourage everyone of them to explore and exploit the full rungs of the appellate ladder and appeal these jaundiced decisions of Panel 2.

We call on our teaming supporters in the APC to keep the faith and remain optimistic. The transience of evil over good is certain.

This too shall pass away.

OBONG INIOBONG JOHN, STATE CHAIRMAN, APC NATIONAL YOUTH CAUCUS, AKWA IBOM STATE CHAPTER.