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BREAKING: Relocate to Abuja immediately — Appeal Court orders Rivers and Ebonyi election petitions tribunal 

He however noted that the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal and that of one other state were also relocated.



Relocate to Abuja immediately — Appeal Court orders Rivers and Ebonyi election petitions tribunal 



The tribunal hearing petitions against the outcomes of the 2023 elections in Rivers has been moved from Port Harcourt, the State capital, to Abuja.


The decision to move the tribunal was due the prevailing insecurity in Rivers state capital, the Secretary to the Tribunal, Abubakar Umar told journalists in Port Harcourt on Thursday.



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He explained that decision followed petitions from stakeholders that the state is insecure for the petitioners, lawyers and witnesses.


The movement of the tribunal to Abuja comes more than two weeks after the tribunal started sitting at the River State judiciary complex in Port Harcourt.



Within the statutory time limit, the tribunal received 76 petitions from different political parties and candidates that participated in the just conducted general elections in the state.


The parties and candidates are challenging the outcome of the elections that were won mostly by the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.



The PDP won all the three Senatorial seats, 12 out the 13 seats in the House Representatives, all the 32 seats in the state House of Assembly as well as the governorship election.



Our correspondent reports that the relocation of the Tribunal to Abuja did not come as a surprise to political observers in and outside the state.


This is because for more three weeks, some parts of Rivers state have been embroiled in insecurity.



For instance, there have been clashes between cult gangs resulting to deaths in Diobu, the heart of Port Harcourt city.



There was also the take over of the entrance to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Rivers State by members of the PDP.


The PDP members were insisting that they they must be allowed to jointly inspect election materials used for the election with other political parties.


Also, Okey Wali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, a former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Rivers and Ex-President of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, was kidnapped along the East-West road near Port Harcourt last Monday.




He was abducted after a gunfight between his security aides and the kidnappers Two persons lost their lives in the incident, while the abductors made away with their prime target, Wali.


Also, within the week, troops ransacked Rundele community of Emohua local government area in search of two rifles and military uniforms stolen by oil thieves in the area after attack on two soldiers.


Throughout the period of the military operations properties were torched, while residents hurriedly fled their homes.


Above all, was the open physical attack on Tonye Cole, the governorship candidate for APC in broad daylight by political thugs who prevented him from entering the INEC office for a scheduled appointment to collect Certified True Copies CTC of electoral materials after sporadic shooting.


Before the physical attack on Cole, three lawyers hired by APC to file petition at the Tribunal were also arrested and detained.


It took the intervention and outcry of the national leadership of NBA before the lawyers who were arrested in their hotel were set free.


In another development, Justice Monica Mensem, president of the Court of Appeal, has directed the immediate relocation of the Ebonyi State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abakaliki, the state capital to Federal Capital Territory Abuja with immediate effect.


Secretary of the Tribunal, Nyior Henry Sekulla announced the development in Abakaliki on Wednesday morning.


Nyior explained that following the directive, the election petition tribunal office at the Ebonyi State Judiciary Headquarters in Abakaliki, southeast Nigeria has shut down from today April 26, 2023.


Nyior said that all processes relating to matters before the Tribunal will continue at Abuja.



The tribunal secretary said it is not within his powers to give the reasons for the relocation.


He however noted that the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal and that of one other state were also relocated.


He said, “The Honourable Justice Monica Dongban Mensem, President Court of Appeal – (HPCA) has through the Deputy Chief Registrar, Election Petition Tribunal (EPT) Headquarters Abuja, directed the relocation of EPT sitting here to FCT Abuja”


Election Petition Tribunal relocates to Abuja
Election Petition Tribunal relocates to Abuja


“Therefore, in compliance with the HPCA directives, the petitioners, counsel to parties, and the general public are hereby informed via this medium that, the EPT sitting here in Abakaliki thereby cease to operate in Abakaliki as of 26-04-23; filings of processes, taking of proceedings, etc. shall henceforth continue at Abuja”.


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