Eyebrows were raised on Thursday, September 3, 2015 as the President of the Court of Appeal, Zainab Bulckachawa replaced Justice Mu’azu Pindiga, the Chairman of the Rivers State election petition tribunal with Justice Mohammed Ambrosa, without prior notice or offering any reason.
This comes on the heels of claims by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the All Progressives Congress (APC), which holds power at the center, was perfecting plans to manipulate the tribunal proceedings in favour of its beaten candidate, Dakuku Peterside, who lost the Saturday, April 11, 2015 governorship election to current Governor Nyesom Wike.
Following the announcement, counsel to Governor Wike, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) and that of the PDP, Chris Uche protested the sudden change, although their protests yielded no result as the tribunal proceedings went on as planned.
Ukala said: “We are worried because yesterday, a number of newspapers published a story that there were subterranean moves by some powerful forces to implement changes in the election tribunal and we got here this morning to find out that the story was not a mere hallucination but a reality that is staring at us in the face.”
On his part, Uche said the sudden change of the tribunal chairman threatens “a fundamental pillar of confidence in justice administration” which he said was “rooted in transparency.”