NGIGE ASKS TRIBUNAL JUDGES TO DISQUALIFY SELVES
Candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in the February 6 Anambra gubernatorial election, Dr. Chris Ngige, has asked judges of the election tribunal to disqualify themselves on grounds of likely bias. Summons filed by Ngige's counsel, Chief George Uwechue (SAN), is praying the tribunal for 'an order disqualifying the members from further hearing of the petition in the light of the far reaching findings of facts made by the Tribunal on July 27 in a Petition filed by the Hope Democratic Party against Governor Peter Obi of APGA 'which findings of facts and determinations prejudged and overreached the main reliefs in the present petition.'
Alternatively, Ngige wants the tribunal to 'suspend further proceedings in this petition pending the determination of the written complaint alleging likelihood of bias against the members of this tribunal.'
The application stated that the judgment of the tribunal of July 27 in the petition filed against Governor Peter Obi's election by the Hope Democratic Party in which 'it affirmatively declared the first respondent in the instant petition as having secured not less than 1/4 of all the votes cast in each of at least 2/3 of all the local government areas in Anambra State (15 of them) and that Obi was duly elected as governor of Anambra State adversely pre-judged the ground of the petitioners in the instant petition and the reliefs sought thereby disqualifying the members of the Tribunal from further adjudicating on the petition.'
Based on the judgment, which Ngige argued infringed on his right to fair hearing, his counsel wrote the Court of Appeal 'with a request for dissolution and reconstitution of the present panel. Interest of justice demands that further proceedings in this petition be suspended pending the written directive of the honourable President of the Court of Appeal.'
Ngige argued further that: 'The judgment delivered on July 27 shortly after the delivery of the pre-hearing session conference report and which judgment invariably overreached the instant petition is an extreme circumstance, warranting the bringing of this application.'
In such circumstances, the Tribunal is obliged to grant the requisite leave of disqualifying itself from further hearing his petition.
In conclusion, the application urged that the 'interest of justice demands that in the peculiar circumstances of this case, members of this Tribunal should disqualify themselves from further adjudication on this petition. Let the impression not be created in the minds of the public that the members of this Tribunal have personal interest in the petition. 'Without waiting for the President of Court of Appeal to take any action one way or the other, the Tribunal should consider it fit to allow another panel of judges to adjudicate to conclusion the petition herein.'