Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
Ebonyi South Senatorial candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 Election, Linus Okorie, has lauded the decision of the President of Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem to relocate the Election Petition Tribunal to Abuja from Abakaliki, capital of the state.
He stressed that it will save lives and guarantee justice for all parties.
Okorie, who spoke in Abakaliki, noted that Ebonyi State was not safe for candidates of the opposition parties to freely prosecute their petitions.
“I wish to commend the President of the Court of Appeal for perceptively acting in the best interest of justice and Ebonyians too by moving the sitting of the Election Petitions Tribunal to Abuja.
“At least, this singular act will save lives in Ebonyi State and guarantee justice for all parties. It is evident that security reports on the officially induced insecurity and constricted democratic space which Ebonyi has long become abound in quarters that matter.”
“For many petitioners and even their supporters, the fear had always been that without moving the tribunal sittings out of Abakaliki, the APC leadership of Okoro Emegha would make it impossible for the opposition; who are mostly the petitioners to freely prove their cases.”
“Reports already had it that the State APC Chapter, archetypal of its hurried disposition to always copy evil had allegedly concluded arrangements to frustrate the cases of their opponents by adopting the recent Rivers State model of blocking access to the tribunal venues for all non-APC litigants in the State.
“The safety of the Honourable Tribunal Judges cannot also be guaranteed nor their zeal to dispense justice be assured under such a pervading threat of intimidation and insecurity,” Okorie said.
He alleged that the ruling APC in the state has been making some sinister moves, including seeking the intervention of the National Chairman of APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu against the relocation to Abuja for the purpose of unleashing mayhem and circumventing justice in the state.
Okorie, who is challenging the declaration of David Umahi as senator-elect, also alleged that the State Government and ruling APC in the state were hell-bent on resorting to all manner of hooliganism and brigandage to subvert justice.
“The excesses of the Ebubeagu militia under Okoro Emegha are of national notoriety; including killing of innocent citizens, maiming, torture, dehumanisation, intimidation and illegal detention of persons in secret dungeons.”
“It was evident during the just concluded elections where non-state actors were deployed to kill, intimidate, harass supporters of the opposition parties and hijacking of electoral materials. Same scenario will definitely play out if the Tribunal sits in Abakaliki,” Okorie said.
He also recalled how he was abducted by the members of the defunct Ebubeagu operatives and taken to the Old Government House because he was contesting against the outgoing Governor of the state.
“On October 16, 2022; I was abducted by Okoro Emegha’s Ebubeagu goons; taken to the Old Government House for indescribable torture, detention and dehumanisation; before I was rescued by the police, arraigned and incarcerated for 45 days in prison on trump up charges of murder.
“My only offense was contesting the Ebonyi South Senatorial seat against the incumbent Governor of the State, David Umahi Nweze,” Okorie recalled.
He further called on all the parties to accept the decision of the President of the Court of Appeal and move on in the greater interest of justice and the sustained peace of Ebonyi State.