By Bassey Inyang
The Senator Representing Cross River South Senatorial District, Mr. Gershom Bassey, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw its lead counsel from the national and state House of Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal, Mr. Eni Okoi, and replace him with another lawyer.
The Senator, who was the senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is making the demand as legal fireworks continue at the tribunal.
Bassey, who is one of the respondents in Petition No EPT/CR/SE/2/15 filed by the senatorial candidate of the Labor Party (LP) Senator Bassey Edet Otu, challenging his declaration as winner of the senatorial election, is alleging that the INEC lawyer has shown that he is not interested in defending the election and its outcome as announced by the electoral body.
Consequently, Bassey has petitioned the Chairman of the INEC, demanding that the counsel be withdrawn and replaced by another lawyer.
The petition dated July 18, was titled: ‘Complaints about the activities of Mr. Eni Okoi, the INEC Lawyer in the Petition No. EPT/CR /SE/2/15: Senator Bassey Edet Otu & Anor V. Gershom Bassey &2 ORS’.
In the petition, Bassey complained that the INEC lawyer is always late to the tribunal and that “the process filed by him leaves much to be desired.”
Bassey, therefore, urged the INEC to replace the lawyer, stating that “In the light of the foregoing, I have lost confidence in the ability and competence of Mr. Okoi to effectively represent the commission in the defence of the petition challenging my due election, as he has clearly shown his bias and interest for the petitioners.”
However, Okoi is alleging that his life has been under constant threat by some persons related to the respondents’ in the matter because he has insisted on not doing anything that is unethical.
In a petition to the INEC chairman dated July 6, this year, Okoi had complained that his life was under threat because he has refused to take to the unethical path of abandoning the case of its client, the INEC, for another lawyer.
The INEC lawyer said it was based on his refusal to comply with the respondent’ constant demand for him to withdraw for another lawyer that he has been constantly harassed and threatened to the extent that he had to relocate his family so as to avoid any form of harm on them.
Okoi in the petition stressed that he has done his job diligently in line with the brief given to him by his client, INEC, which continues to maintain that it conducted a free and fair election that saw to the election of the PDP senatorial candidate.
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