AWKA – LITIGANTS whose cases were pending at the Justice Usman Bwala-led Anambra State First Election Petition Tribunal were taken aback yesterday when they were informed that the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, had dissolved the tribunal. A new one is, however, to be empanelled soon.
Assistant secretary of the tribunal, Mr. Yahaya Haruna, who announced the dissolution to lawyers and parties in the court, however, declined to give details.
Vanguard gathered that the dissolution may not be unconnected with a plethora of allegations by many petitioners accusing the tribunal members of taking bribe and inconsistency in its previous rulings.
Recently, the three-man tribunal had in an open court, raised the alarm that there were allegations of collecting N90 million from some interested parties, which allegedly sparked off calls from some senior members of the Bar for the tribunal to disqualify itself.
A petitioner, Professor Dora Akunyili, was said to have through her counsel, petitioned the Court of Appeal, demanding the dissolution of the Bwala panel on ground of bias and for the tribunal to disqualify itself.
But the former chairman of the tribunal, Justice Bwala, refused to grant the application, insisting that his tribunal was competent to handle the matter between Dr. Chris Ngige of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and Akunyili of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.
Bwala had said the matter would be handled on its merit, adding that it was different from other cases his tribunal had earlier dismissed as no two petitions were the same.
He also rejected application by counsel to APGA and Akunyili, Chief Obiorah Obianwu, SAN, praying the tribunal to disqualify itself from hearing of the petition or transfer it to another tribunal.
Source: Vanguard (August 09,2011)