Akwa Ibom guber: YPP lawyer alleges threats to life, wants tribunal transferred to Abuja



Ahmed Raji, lead counsel representing Albert Bassey, candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Akwa Ibom, has asked that the governorship election petition tribunal be transferred to Abuja over alleged threats to his life.


In a letter dated June 20 and addressed to the chairman of the tribunal in Uyo, the state capital, Raji said he has written to the president of the court of appeal, seeking to transfer the panel to the federal capital territory (FCT) or another safe location.


In the alternative, the senior lawyer wants the tribunal “disbanded”.


“This request of mine was compelled, by the unsavoury life-threatening exposure we were subjected to, after/ the proceedings of 20th June 2023,” Raji said.


 “This life-threatening exposure was at the instance of Eno Umo, the current governor of Akwa Ibom state…”


The senior advocate alleged that Daniel Akpan, a staff of the University of Uyo, who testified as a witness, is also being threatened.


He said Akpan had initially declined to testify “on the ground that his life was under threat by some unknown persons, who claimed he ought not to have certified the academic records of the Eno Umo Bassey”.


 “The life threats were so much, that he had to move his family from Uyo,” the lawyer said.


“During the proceeding of 20th June 2023, the said witness — Daniel Akpan, was still resisted from testifying, by unknown men and supporters of Eno Umo Bassey.


“As a proactive measure, the petitioners had to apply for additional reinforcement and security personnel, to secure the perimeters, both for the witness, himself and his team of lawyers.


“While the said witness was in the witness box, he complained to the honourable tribunal, that he had been receiving several calls from unknown persons, warning him not to give evidence at the tribunal.


 “He equally complained to the honourable tribunal that these persons threatened to kill him; and for this, he solicited protection from the court.


“Unfortunately, the tribunal rebuffed this complaint, perhaps because he was perceived to be a helpless common man.”


Raji said after the court adjourned proceedings, some “unknown men, military men and officers of the police force, in different squads, blocked my team and I, from going home”.


“We were all ordered to alight from our vehicles, wielding heavy armament, weapons, shooting into the air bullets and tear gas,” he said.


 “It is very clear to us that our lives are no longer safe in Akwa Ibom state. This has completely eroded the possibility of having a just, safe and fair trial in Uyo.


“The aggregation of events in this regard, which climaxed during and after the proceedings of 20th June 2023, has irresistibly prompted me to write this letter, not only for the safety of our lawyers but for justice, equity and fairness, which can no longer be realised in Uyo.


 “Against the above backdrop, I respectfully urge your lordship, to tarry a while and await further directives from the president of the court of appeal, since we have lodged a life-threatening complaint to his lordship.


“At this moment, none of the lawyers representing the petitioners is in a good frame of mind to continue further proceedings, if this honourable tribunal still convenes in Uyo.”

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