The All Progressives Congress (APC) wants National Judicial Council (NJC) to sanction members of a panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar, Cross River State over senatorial election appeal cases from Akwa Ibom State.
APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, confirmed in a statement on Monday that the party has taken the decision to report the panel which recognised Senator Albert Akpan as the winner of the Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District election to the judicial body.
The party condemned the October 18 judgement which upheld the victory of the lawmaker who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), describing it as “strange”.
Issa-Onilu said, “The Court of Appeal’s strange ‘judgement’ was delivered in blatant disobedience of the directive of the President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa who had disbanded the appeal panel and constituted a new panel eight clear days before it determined the appeal filed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Hon Bassey Etim, the Party’s senatorial candidate in the 2019 National Assembly election in Akwa Ibom.”
“The party’s legal department will in due course submit a formal petition to the NJC over this travesty,” he added.
The party’s spokesman said the APC would not join issues with the judgement, claiming that the panel of justices that decided the case had been disbanded by the President of the Court of Appeal before the panel began sitting.
He added that the members of the panel had been transferred out of the jurisdiction of the case.
“We wonder why a member of a disbanded panel became so interested on a matter before another panel that it had to sit and read out a ‘judgement’ purportedly on behalf of other members of a non-existent panel.
“We ask, what exactly was at stake? We state clearly that any judgment given without jurisdiction is illegal and a nullity,” Issa-Onilu stated.
According to him, the party is urging the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgement and fix a new date for the hearing of the appeal de novo.
The APC spokesman also stressed that it was important for the NJC to take decisive actions to call the panel to order.
He noted that Section 246(3) of the 1999 Constitution has empowered the Court of Appeal as the final law court on National Assembly elections in Nigeria.
Issa-Onilu, therefore, noted that while the powers of final decision on petitions arising from National Assembly election rest with the Court of Appeal, proceedings must be conducted by a properly constituted court with due regard for a fair hearing.
“We shall pursue the cause of justice on this matter, including filing a formal petition against the members of the panel before the NJC, to a logical conclusion,” he said.