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Your Blackmail Against Akwa Ibom Tribunal Judges Won’t Work, Group Slams Akpabio

Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio has been advised to
focus on his new assignment as a minister and stop blackmailing
members of the  National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal in Akwa
Ibom State, with false and childish bribery allegations “when he could
have actually been the one who tried to compromise the tribunal
members and failed.”

The Elections Transparency Group, ETG, in a release on Tuesday, said
it was worrisome that in his bid to arm-twist the Appeal Court
President, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, into disbanding the Tribunal or
move its sittings from Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital to Abuja,
Senator Akpabio has now commissioned media propaganda against the
Tribunal Chairman, Justice W. O. Akanbi.”

Recall that a week ago today, it was widely reported across the media
space and platforms that Senator Akpabio had concluded plans to
blackmail the Tribunal Chairman and other members with spurious
allegations of financial inducements. It is rather shocking that a
week after the media ran the story, Akpabio through his surrogate, Leo
Ekpeyong has indeed gone ahead to blackmail the Chairman. This is very
sad.

According to the statement issued by its Convener, Dr. Kazeem
Adekunle, the ETG said going by his antecedents, Senator Akpabio must
have resorted to blackmailing the Tribunal Chairman after it became
obvious that his petition will not succeed given the fumbling s by his
witnesses and the fact that the votes he had been bandying about were
not products of accreditation.

The statement read; We in ETG have followed proceedings at some of the
ongoing Election Tribunals in the country, particularly those of Akwa
Ibom State and we are worried that as usual, the All Progressives
Congress (APC) and its Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial candidate,
Godswill Akpabio are now resorting to lying against the Tribunal
members ostensibly to arm-twist them into perverting justice.

For instance, we read online yesterday, that a sum of $3 million had
already been given to the Tribunal Chairman, Justice Akanbi and that
the judge had ordered a brand new Toyota Highlander from the bribe
money.

Even though it is not in our character to defend anyone, including
judges, it is our belief that the report is bare- face blackmail
aimed at intimidating the Justices. Anyone with such grievous
allegation will rather petition the National Judicial Council (NJC)
instead of engaging in media campaign.

By not informing the NJC, it shows that the allegation was only made
to blackmail the judges and arm-twist them, which must not be allowed
to succeed.

To even show that the story was made up just to blackmail the judges,
the amount mentioned in the headline was $3 million while in the body
of the story,  the amount with which they claimed Justice Akanbi was
bribed was $1.5 million.

Also, Chairman of the tribunal was first referred to as Justice W.  O.
Akanbi, later Akanbi J.  and then Akanbi.

Most importantly, we are aware of the stories surrounding the Akwa
Ibom North West Senatorial election, especially the abduction of INEC
officials and attempt to force them to declare false results in favour
of Senator Akpabio.

We are not also unmindful of the fact that those who went to the
extent of abducting INEC officials can go to any length to influence
the tribunal and can also put the lives and career of the Tribunal
members at risk, but the judges must stand firm and dispense justice
without fear or favour.

We therefore call on well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on Senator
Akpabio to desist from his regime of blackmail and allow members of
the election tribunals in Akwa Ibom State do their jobs solely in the
interest of justice and fairness.

It is also important that Senator Akpabio is told to focus more on his
job as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, rather than
using the position as instrument of blackmail against judges who can
only adjudicate on election cases based on the law and evidences made
available to them.

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