By Raphael Ekpang
Benue State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has alarmed the general public, over plot to relocate the governorship appeal panel to Abuja, the nation’s capital.
In a statement signed Tuesday evening by the state publicity secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, the party totally rejected the move, describing it as “an attempt at subverting the course of justice”.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Emmanuel Jime and his party, had appealed against the judgment of the Benue Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which upheld the victory of Governor Samuel Ortom at the 2019 election.
Legal counsel to Governor Ortom and PDP, early hours of Tuesday, received notice from the Makurdi Division of the Court of Appeal, informing of the scheduled hearing slated for Thursday, 21st November, 2019 by the court in Makurdi.
In a contradictory development, the Court of Appeal, Abuja division, also sent a notice of hearing of the appeal to the legal team of Orton and PDP Tuesday evening, slating a hearing for Thursday, 21st November, 2019, in Abuja.
The Benue PDP frowned at the “disturbing and unacceptable development”, noting, “There are no reasons given for the shift in venue of the hearing of this Appeal from Makurdi to Abuja”.
“It is instructive that the Benue Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had throughout the duration of its assignment sat in Makurdi without any hitch or breach of the peace and order pertaining to its sitting.
“This was in spite of the fact that Jime and APC through their legal team made several attempts to have the sitting of the tribunal moved from Makurdi to Abuja.
“When this had failed, the defeated APC governorship candidate and his party launched series of blackmail and smear campaigns against the tribunal with the intent to have its sitting moved from Makutdi to Abuja, still to no effect as the tribunal sat in Makurdi without as much as single incident to the conclusion of its assignment”, the PDP said.
The PDP alleged that, “Emmanuel Jime has been visiting top national leaders of his party to enlist their support towards subverting the course of justice by pressuring the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the Benue Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which was in favour of Gov. Ortom and PDP”.
The party insisted that the earlier notice of the Court of Appeal, Makurdi Division served to Governor Ortom and PDP in the appeal by Jime and APC be upheld and the appeal heard in Makurdi.
“Anything short of this is an attempt at subverting the course of justice and will be lawfully resisted by PDP as the sponsoring platform and custodian of the hard-won victory of Governor Samuel Ortom at the 2019 Governorship Election in Benue State”, the statement added.