by crossriverwatch admin
In an unprecedented development, the Local Government Elections Petition Tribunal constituted by the Chief Judge of Cross River State to hear and determine petitions arising out of the conduct of Local Government Elections in the State winds up without hearing any petition.
Indeed as at 14th October 2013 which was the last day for the filing of petitions by aggrieved candidates, no petition had been filed in the Tribunal.
By the provisions of the Local Government Law of Cross River State, an aggrieved candidate has 21 days from the date of the declaration of results by the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission, CROSIEC to file a petition.
Checks at the registry of the Local Government Elections Petition Tribunal at the High Court, Mary Slessor Avenue, Calabar reveal that no single petition was filed as at the 14th October, 2013.
The development may not be unconnected with the decision of CROSIEC to exclude participation of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the Local Government Elections in the State which saw an election without opponents held on September 21, 2013 despite pending suits in Court challenging the constitutionality of the elections.
The election saw a low turnout of voters; there were reports of massive irregularities and vote rigging in numerous polling units across the State perpetrated by agents of the PDP in collusion with officials of CROSIEC and the Police.
It was however expected that the seven councillorship wards out of one hundred and ninety six where some opposition parties fielded candidates will still approach the tribunal for redress but the Local Government Elections Tribunal having waited in vain for petitions from aggrieved contestants had to wind up.
Also affected by this unprecedented development is the Local Government Elections Appeal Tribunal that was constituted to hear appeals arising from the judgments of the Local Government Elections Petition Tribunal.
It will be the first time since 2007 that no petition emanated from conduct of the Local Government Elections in the State by CROSIEC.
According to opposition APC Chieftain in the State, Obono Obla, “The decision of CROSIEC to go ahead with the elections despite pending legal suits took the shine out of the elections and led to a boycott by electorate across the State. Indeed there were no aggrieved candidates because only candidates sponsored by the PDP were allowed by CROSIEC to contest the elections”.
But a PDP official who spoke to CrossRiverWatch in Calabar applauded Imoke and the Ntufam John Okon led PDP in the state for making history by conducting an election that no one queried at the tribunal.
The ruling party official who did not want to be named said: “This is another first by our leader, Imoke. Have you heard anywhere in the country where elections are conducted without rancor and a tribunal winds up without a single petition? I think the rest of the country should come and learn from Imoke and our Chairman, Ntufam John Okon how to conduct rancor free elections”.
Meanwhile further hearing in two suits filed by the APC in the High Court, Calabar challenging the decision of CROSIEC to exclude it from participation in the Local Government Elections was stalled on the 18th October 2013 because of an application for adjournment made by Counsel to the PDP, Barrister Barth Izato on health grounds.
However Counsel to APC, Barrister Matthew Ojua stoutly opposed the application on the ground that the letter for adjournment was written with the letter head paper of the PDP instead of that of the law firm of Counsel to PDP.
The presiding Judge, Obojor Ogar, adjourned the matter to 28th October, 2013 for definite hearing of the motions filed by APC to cancel the elections held on September 21, 2013 and disqualify the Attorney General of Cross River State from appearing in Court as Counsel to CROSIEC.
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