If the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN and the President of the Court of Appeal listen to the plea of Senator Bassey Albert for the relocation of the election petition tribunal to Abuja, all those who have cases at the tribunal may have to prepare to move to the nation’s capital for continuation of their case.
Albert, the 2023 gubernatorial candidate of the YPP no more feel safe to have his case tried in Uyo, following Tuesday’s threat to his life by unknown persons believed to be acting on the instructions of certain persons in the government.
Albert had dragged the Akwa Ibom governor to the tribunal on the ground that the governor was not qualified to contest the election because his WAEC certificates were questionable.
On Monday, Albert was at the tribunal to give evidence based on his petition. But after giving his testimony, he was held hostage for hours. The court area was blocked and Albert unable to find his way out of the area. He blamed the attack by a combined team of police and army on Umo Eno.
In his petition to the CJN, Albert said “it is very clear to us that our lives are no longer safe in Akwa Ibom State. This has completely eroded the possibility of having a just, safe and fair trial in Uyo”. He also suggested that the tribunal should be disbanded.
According to him, some government agents were not comfortable that one of the witnesses, Daiel Akpan, a staff of the University of Uyo, was giving evidence at the tribunal against the governor.
He said Akpan had refused to appear at the tribunal to testify for fear of being killed, but that he had no choice than to appear because of the subpoena that was served on him.
“He was invited to testify in Court and give evidence as to whether he is a staff the University of Uyo, who certified the Academic records of of Eno Umo Bassey, indicating that he was expelled from the school, because he had no verifiable results from the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).”
“During the proceeding of 20th June 2023, the said witness – Daniel Akpan, was still resisted from testifying, by unknown men and supporters of Eno Umo Bassey. As a proactive measure, the Petitioners had to apply for additional reinforcement and security personnel, to secure the perimeters, both for the witness, himself and his team of lawyers”.
“While the said witness was in the Witness Box, he complained to the Honourable Tribunal that he had been receiving several calls by unknown persons, warning him not to give evidence at the Tribunal. He equally complained to the Honourable Tribunal that these persons threatened to kill him; and for this, he solicited protection from the Court. Unfortunately, the Tribunal rebuffed this complaint, perhaps because he was perceived to be a helpless common man”.
“As a follow up to the anxiety of Daniel Akpan, I passionately appealed to the Honourable Tribunal for a covering Order in his favour. I respectfully urged the Honourable Tribunal to make a covering and protective Order, that nobody should arrest or whisk away the witness because he appeared to give evidence, in the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (subpoena)”, the petition added.
He said under the circumstance, the best that can be done was for the tribunal to be relocated to Abuja, as Akwa Ibom was no more safe.