Following the unfavourable judgements of the National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal against Hon. Bassey Etim and Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Ukoette and the All Progressives Congress (APC). Candidates of the Party exercised their Constitutional right of appeal and filed their respective Appeal at the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division.
Briefs of arguments were exchanged by all parties, the last process was received by the Appellants on October 14, 2019 on the same day the case was adjourned for adoption of addresses. This fact was brought to the attention of the Justices of the Court.
In the course of oral adumbrations by Counsel to the Parties, Counsel to Hon. Bassey Etim had an uphill task with their Lordships who did not seem to have the patience to allow him ventilate the case of the Appellant. This was as opposed to the open adulation and near applause and endorsement of the submissions of Counsel to Senator Bassey Albert Akpan.
At the close of submissions, the Court informed Parties that Judgement in the Appeal will be delivered the following day (October 15, 2019) and there was no need to waste their time or check out of their hotel rooms!
There was everything wrong with the acrimonious disposition of their Lordships towards the Appellant’s Counsel and this was eloquently betrayed by their utterances in open Court.
It is the Constitutional right of every litigant to seek justice and be allowed access to justice. When the mechanisms of the wheels of justice are clogged and hampered by inducements from financially over-bearing litigants against opponents such that it becomes obvious that the scales of justice are already tilted away from equity and fairness, it is incumbent on the affected Party to seek speedy intervention within the judicial framework.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State had engaged its celebration gear since it became obvious that it would be the ultimate beneficiary of the outcome of all Petitions pending before various Panels of the Election Petitions Tribunals in Akwa Ibom State.
For instance, on 19th September, 2019, the day the decision of the Governorship Election petition tribunal was handed down; the Party had already mobilized its members and hired cultural troupes and dancers to keep vigil at the Tribunal’s premises. Was this a mere innocent ebullient display of optimism or it was an arrogant and audacious expression of a “done-deal”?
This time around, by the evening of October 14, 2019, the day slated for adoption of written arguments in the case at hand, supporters and hired praise singers were ferried from Uyo and environs and converged in the Cross River State capital. They reveled at notable clubs and drinking corners singing songs of a sure victory at the anticipated judgement of the Court of Appeal to be delivered the following day. Such outward display of confidence and jubilation must have been reinforced by assurances that indeed the coffers of State had once again been bled!
It is against this background that we can situate the temporary but almost eternal frustrations of the PDP and its Candidates when the judgment of the Court of Appeal could not be delivered as envisaged and in their favour on the 15th of October. They had to look for a scapegoat.
It has been characteristic of the PDP in Akwa Ibom State to continue to throw tantrums and raise unsubstantiated allegations of impropriety against the Judiciary especially against Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the President Court of Appeal in the lawful exercise of his official functions as prescribed by the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and other Statutes in that behalf. They have accused the PCA of every offence in the books.
For example, in a recent release, the PDP had accused his Lordship of indicating an undue interest by “posting ‘herself’ to the (Presidential) panel conscious of the existing political relationship between one of the parties (the Respondent)…”. They have also said the PCA panders to the whims and wishes of the APC in Akwa Ibom State.
The current campaign of calumny against the President of the Court of Appeal by the PDP Publicity Secretary and media urchins in Akwa Ibom State alleging malfeasance on the Court is a well known strategy of wailing more than the known victim just to deflect attention from its whole-sale-purchase tactics.
No one will celebrate a slavish adherence to judicial history at the expense of substantial justice and therefore the PDP should not expect litigants to fold their arms and await impending and sure judicial calamity befall them before taking steps. Equity aids the vigilant and not the indolent.
Developments from the Court of Appeal Calabar today shows that the PDP were acting in their characteristic manner only to vilify and desecrate sacred institutions on its way to procuring favourable judgments at all costs from their usual patrons. This is a well-known immoral stock-in-trade. Are we therefore surprised at the turn of events? Not in the least. And we take same with equanimity knowing that for this lap, there must be an end to litigation. Let the bandit keep his loot, but forsake his ways.
Emboldened by previous successful judicial heists, the PDP has perfected a conman art of flying the kite while at the same time maintaining a steady gaze of an archer on judgment targets. It has so far paid off!
Within the firmament of the hallowed chambers of Justice, there are those who are found at the lower rung of the ladder of integrity. These are the ready tools who have continued to give the Judiciary its bad name and for whose sake, we must be eternally vigilant.
The PDP must learn to maintain good eating etiquette while at the table; while eating, don’t talk.
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