The National Assembly and Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal Panel 1 for Abia State has commenced sitting with a warning to counsels to avoid uncomplimentary comments.
Chairman of the three-member tribunal, Justice Mohammed B. Wakili, gave the warning in his inaugural speech at the maiden sitting of the tribunal held at state High Court, Umuahia, saying that the tribunal was conscious of the constitutional provision which requires the conclusion of proceedings within 180 days.
While warning counsels appearing before the tribunal that ?we would not take kindly any uncomplimentary comment of frivolous petition against this tribunal?, the chairman also appealed to journalists to be fair and objective in reporting the proceedings.
?Avoid sensational reporting to prevent triggering up of notions and heating the surrounding environment unnecessarily,? Wakili warned, adding that journalists should seek clarifications of the legal meaning of intendments of the events at the tribunal before publishing or broadcasting ?in order to avoid running into trouble with the tribunal?.
To this end, he stressed the need for counsels to the parties to cooperate with the tribunal for a smooth dispensation of justice within the stipulated time to enable those that might not be satisfied with the outcome to seek further redress at a higher court.
He stated that the tribunal was properly constituted under Section 285 of the constitution to hear petitions presented before it by petitioners in accordance with Sections 133(1) and 137 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act , 2010 and the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2010.
In the first petition the tribunal heard immediately after its inaugural sitting, the former Governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, was granted leave to inspect the ballot papers and result sheets used in the senatorial election for Abia North senatorial district.
Kalu, who contested the senatorial seat under the banner of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) is challenging the return of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Mao Ohuabunwa as the Senator-elect.