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Tribunal ignores YPP Candidate’s Request Against Gov Eno (See Why)



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The Governorship Elections Appeal Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, in the petition of Senator Bassey Albert and the Young Progressives Party (YPP) against the election of Pastor Umo Eno in the 2023 Guber election, has ignored the request of the petitioner for the tribunal to be relocated to Abuja even as it has been adjourned to July 5, 2023, for cross-examination.

Recall Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, the governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in the last election, has petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the President of the Court of Appeal, to relocate the Governorship Election Petirio in Uyo to Abuja, following threats to his life, those of lawyers as well as his witnesses.

The action of the Court follows arguments when the Tribunal resumes hearing of the petition, by the defense team that since there was no evidence of insecurity in the location of the tribunal, then the relocation application by the petitioner was a ploy to prevent the petitioner from being cross-examined.

A lawyer with the petitioners, Dr Sunny Usoroh who was spotted in the courtroom by the tribunal was asked if he was threatened at any point during proceedings the previous day, and he answered in the negative.

“My lord I am here today as a friend of the court, and not as a member of the petitioners’ legal team. But throughout yesterday, no one threatened me and I went home peacefully”, he narrated.

“I feel it is better we hear from them in case there is a genuine reason for their inability to come here today”, added the bewildered Sunny Usoroh to the tribunal.

At the resumed hearing on his petition Senator Albert who was expected to close his defense today, Wednesday by testifying before the court, boycotted the proceedings along with his legal team and rather communicated his desires to have the tribunal relocated to the federal capital territory.

His counsel, Ahmed Raji and Tunde Falola were all absent in court during the proceedings.

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But Paul Usoro, SAN, speaking on behalf of the 2nd defendant, Pastor Umo Eno urged the court to issue hearing notices to the petitioners and their legal representatives before the next adjourned date.

The defense counsel maintained that since the petitioners had nearly ended their case, it was pertinent the first petitioner comes before the tribunal to be cross-examined.

“My lord, it won’t take us up to two hours to finish cross-examination of the 1st petitioner and then we can commence our defense.

“I wish to also intimate the court the courtroom is nearly filled and it obvious most of the people here are supporters of the petitioners and we believe they can go and tell their leaders that the court is safe. I can even see my friend, Dr Sunny Usoro who made an appearance for the petitioners yesterday,” Paul Usoro said.

Also reacting, Offiong Offiong(SAN) one of the counsel to the 1st defendant, who said he was yet to sight a copy of the petition, urged the court to discountenance such claim, as there was no security issue to have warrant such Petition.

“I have not seen a copy of the petition. I want it to be on record that I am very safe here”.

“I woke up this morning and I saw so many missed calls from my senior brother. He asked me if I was safe, that they heard that there was chaos in the tribunal and that several cars were set ablaze. I told him they were merely unfounded rumours,” Offiong said, adding that perhaps Bassey Albert and his team also heard the same rumour and concluded that there was insecurity.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Adekunle Adeleye adjourned the matter to 5th July 2023.

He further directed that the tribunal hearing notice be served on the petitioners and their lead counsel at their addresses in Uyo and Abuja.


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