AMB SOBOMABO JACKRICH CONDEMNS THE ARREST OF OPPOSITION LAWYERS IN RIVERS STATE AND CALLS FOR THE ELECTION PETITION TRIBUNAL TO BE MOVED TO ABUJA.
In view of the right of political parties to seek redress at the tribunal for acts of illegality in any electoral process, guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act, 2022, I strongly condemn the recent arrest of three lawyers who were apprehended while filing an election petition on behalf of their party at the Election Petition Tribunal in Rivers State.
The legal team of the opposition party arrested was exercising their constitutional right to challenge the outcome of the gubernatorial election held in Rivers State, which was marred by gross irregularities and violence.
The unwarranted arrest and harassment of these lawyers by the Nigerian police, acting on behalf of Governor Wike, is a blatant attempt to obstruct the legal process and deny the people of Rivers State their right to justice.
It has become clear to the governors that the only way to allow the illegality of the just-concluded governorship election to stand is to oppress and suppress the opposition from going to the Tribunal to contest the process and the outcome of it, as that would invalidate the election due to the overwhelming evidence of rigging, vote-buying, ballot snatching, overvoting, violence, and intimidation of voters.
It is deeply worrisome that the actions of Gov. Wike and his co-conspirators are undermining the credibility of the tribunal process in Rivers State and making a mockery of democracy.
The intimidating tactics being used against opposition political parties seeking redress at the Election Petition Tribunal are unacceptable, and the Nigerian Police Force in Rivers State must immediately cease allowing itself to be used as a tool for suppressing opposition voices.
In light of the foregoing, I call on the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Inspector General of Police, and other relevant authorities to ensure that:
- The Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal should be immediately moved from Port Harcourt to Abuja. This move will ensure the impartiality of the tribunal process, guarantee the safety of opposition political parties, and restore confidence in the process.
- The Nigerian Police Force in Rivers State must cease and desist from being used by the Governor in any further attempts to intimidate and harass members of opposition political parties in the State.
- The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal’s proceedings should be closely monitored to prevent any attempts to compromise the process.
Let it be made clear that Rivers State is not a conquered territory; therefore, we, the people, will not be cowed or silenced in our quest for justice. No amount of intimidation or harassment will stop us from exploring all available legal options to challenge the fraudulent outcome of the gubernatorial elections in Rivers State.
I urge all relevant authorities to act decisively to protect the democratic rights of the people of Rivers State and ensure that the proceedings of the Rivers State Governorship election tribunal are transparent, impartial, and fair.
I urge Governor Wike to be at ease and allow other political parties and their candidates to contest the dubious outcome of the governorship and state house of assembly elections, if he is confident in the purported victory of his party. However, it appears unlikely that he and the PDP in Rivers State will allow this to happen, as they fear the consequences that they are bound to face in the Election Petition Tribunal for their horrendous high-handedness During the polls.
Despite these intimidations, I can assure the good people of Rivers that victory is guaranteed.