By Richard Peters
“Nobody knows where the case will end” – Tunde Falola, OBA’s Counsel
It is no longer news that Bassey Albert through his legal team had petitioned the President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) for the election petition tribunal to be relocated to Abuja, citing security concerns, and till date, there is no response from the PCA. This led counsel to Bassey Albert, Tunde Falola to remind the court on Wednesday that their petition to the President of the Court of Appeal for the relocation of the tribunal to Abuja, is pending as there is no response from the Appellate Court President yet.
Earlier, the lead counsel to Pst Umo Eno had argued that the silence from the President of the Appeal Court was not unconnected to the manner the request was made. Paul Usoro, said it was unethical to make such request without following laid down rules guiding such request, adding that they could have copied the parties involved in the case.
Recall that the case between Bassey Albert and Umo Eno was moving smoothly until the 20th of June, when the last set of witnesses were cross-examined and documents were tendered and marked as exhibits by the court. The petitioner-in-chief, Bassey Albert also tendered documents and what was remaining was for him to be cross-examined, which was later fixed for the next day.
After the stage-managed fiasco embarked upon by OBA’s boys, they petitioned the President of the Appeal Court to relocate the tribunal to Abuja. Days after, the tribunal summoned them to appear in court and continue the case as failure to do so comes with consequences.
Based on the summon of the tribunal, they argued on yesterday in court that the tribunal should cease to hear the matter till the president of the Court of Appeal gives a response to their request.
There were counter-arguments from Pst. Umo Eno’s counsel that it appears that the Court of Appeal had taken a stand on the request since it was not done properly and argued that the case should continue. They cited authorities and other cases that bear resemblance to the one at hand, and concluded that they acted unethically.
In response, the chairman of the election tribunal in the state ruled that the case should continue, having taken cognizant of how far the case had gone already. He ordered them to appear in court today for the last lap of the case, which will be the cross examination of Bassey Albert, and subsequent closure of their case to pave the way for the respondents to open their defence.
Also yesterday during the arguments, the lead counsel to the petitioner-in-chief, Bassey Albert, said that “nobody knows when the case will end.”
The statement if critically evaluated shows a higher dose of confusion in the camp of Bassey Albert. How can a lawyer openly tell the court that nobody knows when the case will end? Even without being told, it is a known fact that the supreme court which is the apex court of the land is still there, and when one is dissatisfied by the rulings in an election case, the doors are open upto supreme court to hear such case.
For a lawyer of his standing to make such a statement in court simply shows a lack of preparedness to prosecute the case, their ineptitude in terms of handling the case and their confusion. It is indeed sad.
If a lawyer does not know where the case would end, then there is a problem. Even when it is difficult to know the exact date, but one can still have a mental picture of the location frame. This perhaps made the court to burst into laughter when he made the statement.
At this point, OBA’ s countenance was nothing to write home about, he was literally shaking and destabilized. His body language suggested that he has lost hope and faith in his legal team.
He would have taken an honourable step, but pride would not let him. He is still poised to continue a case that does not have a base, as election in Akwa Ibom was free and fair as affirmed by both national and international observers.
As we await the petitioner-in-chief to enter the witness box, the public should await another doses of discrepancies and misrepresentation of facts that he will undoubtedly give in court. This is because all his witnesses tend to tow the same path of giving incoherent arguments and making confusing statements when they were cross-examined.
As the petitioner-in-chief steps into the witness box, members of the public should await more of such blunders.
Don’t forget that elections have been concluded in Akwa Ibom state, and were adjudged free, fair and credible, hence the PDP in Akwa Ibom is ready, the Independent National Electoral commission in the state is ready, and Pastor Umo Eno is ready to prove his victory at the tribunal up-to supreme court, that’s if the petitioners choose to go haywire.
This is the beginning of the end of the case between Bassey Albert and Pst Umo Eno.