The National Judicial Council (NJC) has been called upon to relocate election appeal cases arising from the outcomes of the Delta State Election Petition Tribunal for the 2023 general elections in the state to the federal capital territory, Abuja.
The call was made by the Delta State Assembly of Youth Leaders (DSAYL) yesterday Thursday during a press conference at the press centre of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Warri Correspondents’ Chapel in Warri, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
In the group’s press statement signed by its Secretary, Mr Dudun Oritsegbemi and the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr Orherime Bakpa, the clamour by the DSAYL for the relocation of election appeal cases from Delta to Abuja was hinged on the need for the judicial body to douse mounting political tension occasioned by the perceived judicial somersaults in some of the cases which did not go in favour of the opposition political parties in the state.
Recall that on Monday, July 24, 2023, the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba, Delta State sacked the Labour Party (LP) member of the House of Representatives for Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency, Ngozi Okolie, who was declared the winner of the 25 February National Assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and declared former Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the election.
However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Thursday, September 14, 2023, set aside the judgment of the National and State Houses of Assembly Election Tribunal in Asaba and declared Ngozi Okolie as the rightful winner of the election.
The Delta State Assembly of Youth Leaders disclosed that it has uncovered a new trend in post-election intrigues bordering on political tensions in Nigeria’s nascent democracy
“It is public knowledge that the General elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gave birth to several electoral litigations by the candidates across boards.
“Post-election litigations in Nigeria have become as constant as the Northern Star which verily questions the integrity of our electoral umpires which is not supposed to be so.
“Nevertheless, today, we are not here to talk about the free and fairness of our elections but to point out an issue that should be handled swiftly and carefully by the government of Nigeria to avert unnecessary agitations that may lead to breakdown of law and order.
“As a group, the DELTA STATE ASSEMBLY OF YOUTH LEADERS (DSAYL), has observed with keen attention the brewing political tension in Delta State following election tribunal verdicts passed in the state. While some political pundits are jubilating, some are sad and angry in view of the verdicts.
“Elections and post-election violence are nothing new in Delta State. Delta State produces approximately 40 percent of Nigeria’s oil. According to Nigeria’s 1999 constitution, 13 percent of federal revenue from natural resources is returned to the state from which it came, on a “derivation” basis.
“Delta State is thus the richest state in the Nigerian federation, and control of its government structures is a major prize both for the individuals and the political parties concerned.
“Historically, among the main causes of the 2003 fighting in Delta State (as in 1999) have been disputes over the manner in which state and federal elections would be run, and the lack of confidence in the institutions responsible for resolving those disputes and ensuring the vote would be free and fair.
“What we do not want as a group in the State, is aggrieved persons highjacking the peace and tranquillity currently being enjoyed in Delta State as there seems to be growing tension in the camp of those who lost to their opponents at the various tribunals.
“It is on this note that the DELTA STATE ASSEMBLY OF YOUTH LEADERS (DSAYL), is calling on the National Judicial Council (NJC) to relocate all Election Tribunal Appeal Hearings in Delta State to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“The political tension is not only in Delta State but can be sensed in some states across the country. We believe as a group that our Justices must be protected at all costs and the sanctity of the judiciary must be upheld at all times.
“We also know that the best way to do this is through the protection of esteemed wigs of the judiciary.
“Furthermore, we call on politicians who have lost at the tribunals to prepare for the next round of elections, rather than inflaming passions.
“We look forward to the kind and swift response of the NJC’s leadership, in order to avert unnecessary agitations that may degenerate into a breakdown of law and order in the State,” DSAYL appealed.