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By Cadre Drake
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Members of LIBERATE – DELTA PEOPLE'S MOVEMENT, a group representing over 9000 citizens of Delta State have today learnt that "For reasons best known to the authorities", HON. JUSTICE AYO ABISOYE, Chairman of the April 26, 2011 Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal has been removed as Chairman and a yet unknown person appointed to oversee the Tribunal. Members of Liberate are dismayed at this action which brings back memories of the Salami affair and is seen by Deltans as an attempt to stifle justice and the rule of law in Delta State.

The Tribunal is due to rule on the petition brought by Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, the Gubernatorial candidate for the Democratic Peoples Party, challenging INEC's declaration of Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan (PDP) as the duly elected Governor of the State. According to Section 134(2) of the 2010 Electoral Act "...An election tribunal shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of the filing of the petition." The Tribunal has been sitting for 153 days since the filing of the petition. Members of Liberate are therefore surprised that with only 27 days left for the Tribunal to deliver its judgement, the Chairman has been removed.

Speaking on the Matter, the spokesman of Liberate: Delta People's Movement, Mr. Cadre Drake said that:

'The removal of Hon. Justice Abisoye sends signals that there are attempts to pervert the cause of justice. Explanations are needed not just to provide reasons for the decisions but also how the people of Delta State can now be assured of a fair, just and independent process. The vast majority of Deltans did not vote for Uduaghan and I fear that any attempt to subvert a duly convened electoral Tribunal will put the government on a collision course with the people.'

Hon. Justice Abisoye is known to be incorruptible and all observers of the proceedings thus far have commended her fairness and commitment to a fair hearing despite rumours of threats and intimidation directed at her. Liberate has also learnt that there are threats to disband the Tribunal entirely, a move which will be unconstitutional, unjust and against the interest of the citizens of Delta State. Liberate: Delta Peoples Movement has called on the president of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to intervene in the matter and ensure that the benefits of the Rule of Law which he promised to all Nigerians applies in Delta State.