YPP’Albert petition A’Court President, wants relocation of A’Ibom tribunal

The Young Progressives Party, YPP, governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State, Senator Bassey Albert has petitioned the President of the Court of Appeal, over his safety and that of witnesses at the state election petition tribunal sitting in Uyo, and requested an immediate relocation of the tribunal.

In a petition dated June 21, 2023, by his lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, Senator Albert claimed that the tribunal venue was no longer safe for him and some witnesses following threats to their lives by suspected armed personnel.

The petition read: “I write to report an unusual and life-threatening spate of events, in the Governorship Election Tribunal, sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

“My representation is for the Petitioners in EPT/AKW/GOV/01/2023, Between Akpan Albert Bassey & Anor. V. INEC & 2 ORS., and 4” Respondent, in Mr. Akanimo A. Udofia & Anor. v.INEC & 4 Ors. Specifically, I am the lead Counsel representing a two term lawmaker: Senator Akpan Albert Bassey and the Young Progressives Party.

“The primary complaint of my client in the Petition, is that he ought to have been returned winner of the March 18, 2023, Gubernatorial Election, in Uyo, Akwa lbom State.

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“On this premise, the Petitioners were compelled to have a subpoena issued and served on him. He was invited to testify in Court and give evidence as to whether he is a staff of the University of Uyo, who certified the Academic Records 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 June 20, 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 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 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 Tribunal for a covering Order in his favour. I respectfully urged the 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 [subpoenal].

 

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“The Tribunal appeared to downplay the importance of the life of Daniel Ekpan, who appeared in Court to testify, in honour of the subpoena. My request was openly addressed to be an administrative issue, which ought to be handled by the Secretary of the Tribunal.

“Whilst the Tribunal adjourned further hearing to June 21 2023, unknown men, military men and officers of the Police force, in different squads invaded the Court, and blocked my team and I, from going home. We were all ordered to alight from our vehicles, wielding heavy armament, weapons, shooting into the air, bullets, and tear gas.

“The whole environment was engulfed in commotion, with our team of lawyers escaping on foot, and hiding in bushes, scampering from safety. But for the armoured car which convened me, and the intervention of the Senate President and Inspector General of Police, these men who were carrying out instructions and would have killed us, after holding us hostage for more than two hours.

“The aggregation of events in this regard, which climaxed during and after the Proceedings of June 20, 2023, has irresistibly prompted me to write this Letter, not only for the safety of our lawyers, but for justice, equity and fairness, which Can no longer be realised in Uyo.

“To this end, I hereby apply with humility, on behalf of myself, my team of lawyers and the good people of Akwa Ibom State, that the Governorship Election Tribunal, sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, be relocated to Abuja, FCT. I sincerely thank My Noble Lord for the anticipated prompt intervention.”

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