Cross River election: Tribunal begins sitting in Calabar

The Cross River State Election Petitions Tribunal on Monday began sitting in Calabar.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Vincent Agbata, while speaking at the inaugural sitting held at the State High Court on Mary Slessor Avenue in Calabar, assured that the tribunal would dispense justice without fear or favour.

Other members of the tribunal are Justices Ishaku Kunda and Abubakar Bello.

Agbata said the panel will not look at anybody’s face or standing in the public no matter whose case they would handle, adding that they were essentially composed to serve the public not influential individual.

“We are here to serve you, to serve the public. We are here to work, to render service. It is not an easy job. At the same time, it is equally as easy as it is. A lot depends on you if it will be easy or difficult,” he told counsel to parties that filed petitions before the tribunal.

Agbata cautioned that he has not recognised anybody to act as his agent or representative in the course of the tribunal’s sitting.

“I have not appointed anybody as my agent. Please take note of that. I have not appointed anybody as my representative, neither have other members of this tribunal. We will maintain an open door policy. We are approachable. Every application must be done while the tribunal is sitting, not outside.

“In the course of this duty, we remain learned friends and at the end of the day, we expect you to assist us to achieve the desired result,” he said.

The attorney-general and commissioner for Justice in the state, Joe Abang, told journalists , “As a result of the perceived wrongs perpetrated during elections, it was necessary to set up an efficient and reliable system to address election related disputes.

“Consequently, election tribunals were established to address seemingly perceived grievances arising from our chequered electoral process.

“Election disputes are highly sensitive, contentious and controversial, so much so that the process of disposing them seems to put the judiciary itself on trial.

“I therefore urge you to abide by the oath of office you took and courageously and honestly discharge your duty without fear or favour.”

Speaking on behalf of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Daniel Edet said the tribunal’s members should not forget that “you took an oath of office to work without fear or favour. Dispense justice according to the law. Justice must be seen to have been done by the common man.”

Culled from Today Nigeria
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