From Okey Sampson, Umuahia

There was drama at the Abia LG Election Petition Tribunal yesterday when the chairman, Magistrate Nnaemeka Orji who was supposed to have delivered judgment in one of the cases after almost one year of legal fire works, surprisingly, announced his withdrawal from the Tribunal.

Citing serious threat to his life and that of his family members, from unknown persons as reason, Orji who announced this during a sitting of the Tribunal in Umuahia, said he had received several threats to drop the case or face the music from an alleged secret cult members.  He equally alleged that the purported secret cult members claimed they were monitoring him and will take all it will cost to eliminate him if he continued as the chairman of the panel.  Magistrate Orji who stated in open  court after lawyers announced appearance that his life, that of his family and the panel members were in danger following the latest text message he received, on November 16, warning them to hands off the case, adjourned the matter sine die.

Reacting to the development, one of the lawyers to APC candidates, Perfect Okorie said he was not surprised to witness the drama that took place in the court.  Okorie who insisted that the team would write to Abia state Chief Judge as suggested by the panel chairman, said they will pursue the case to its conclusion.

“We came for Ohafia LG’s judgement fixed for today, and to adopt final addresses for Bende and Umunneochi LGs before the chairman of the panel ordered for the paper bearing the threats to be shared.  There was also a twist when the respondents tried to challenge the jurisdiction of the panel through a motion which later did not come up, we would have stood on the strength of their evidence to ask for the motion to be struck out”.

Okorie disclosed that the magistrate just condemned the purported threat, did not allowed lawyers to contribute, before going ahead to read his decision.  The APC flag bearer for Ohafia LGA in the said election, Chief Kalu Mba Nwoke a.k.a Etiokwe described what happened in court as rehearsal of a written script. He disclosed that since the matter began, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Uche Ihediwa never appeared before the Tribunal for one day, only to be in court on the supposed day of judgment, when the drama played out. Chief Nwoke advised Abia State government to borrow a leave from Lagos and Kaduna States (all APC states) which allowed LG tribunals to  do their job without interference.

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Source: news