By: Valentine Adese, Alfred Saiki and Ifeanyi Okonkwo
The Chairman of the newly constituted Election Petition Tribunal to look into issues raised in the recent rerun election conducted by the Independent National Election Petition Tribunal on 20th February, 2016, for Pankshin South Constituency of Plateau State, Hon. Justice Ebiowei Tobi, has warned litigants in the matter not to have any plans of trying to reach the panel in anyway.
The Chairman, who gave this warning in his inaugural speech today, said, nobody knows them and those who know them cannot and will not approach them.
Adding that, “if you give anybody your money, it will enter voice mail. We came with our integrity and we will go back with our integrity.”
Replicating the speech he made in Ogun state in 2015, the chairman called on lawyers in the matter to be up and doing in order to assist the Tribunal.
Hon. Justice Ebiowei’s speech in part is as follows:
“The rerun election has come and gone. One will win and the other will lose. The one who lost has approached the Tribunal.
“We have been constituted to look into the grievances by the President of the Court of Appeal. We are to promote the tenet of Justice and zero tolerance for corruption.
“This is a national and divined assignment and we are not ready to mortgage our conscience. We will stand on the Oath we took.
“We are aware of the bricks ahead but, we must succeed! We need the cooperation of the Litigants, lawyers and the general public.
“Don’t waste time discussing on how to reach us, as you can’t reach us. Simply pray for the wisdom of God on us.
“Lawyers should assist the Tribunal to see that Justice is done. Let your focus be to contribute to the Tribunal. We have 180 days, so, the strategy of delaying cases will not work. This means that, everyday counts. This petition will not elapse on this panel.
“For the press, sensational journalism should not be your focus. Seek clarification from the secretary of the Tribunal when in doubt.
“For the general public, what we need is your constant prayers.”
Responding to the Chairman’s speech, the Attorney-General (AG) of Plateau state, represented by Barr. Florence B. Lotben (Mrs), Director Civil litigation (DCL) in Plateau State Ministry of Justice, while welcoming the panel to the state, prayed for God’s guidance on them.
Also, I. S. Bashir (Esq), who spoke on behalf of the Bar, said, “Your speech is captivating! As lawyers, we will do our best to ensure that our cases are presented timely”
Other members of the panel are, Hon. Justice, G. Ali-Jos, and Hon. Justice, A. Y. Birnin-Kudu.
The Tribunal has fixed Thursday, 21st April, 2016 for the Pre-trial of the Petition filed by Hon. Nwansat Istifanus Caleb and the PDP challenging the rerun election held on 20th February, 2016, in Pyabor polling unit in Pankshin South Constituency of Plateau State.
Respondents to the Petition are, Hon. Gideon Dashe, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and INEC.