Why Appeal Court replaced Rivers Election panel chairman

The Federal Government might have been beaming its searchlight on the leadership of the election petition tribunals operating in the country with a view to ensuring their absolute integrity, security sources confirmed to Vanguard last night.

The revelation came following the sudden removal of the Chairman of the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Muazu Pindiga.

Pindiga was, yesterday, replaced on the orders of the President of the Court of Appeal, PCA, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, with another jurist, Suleiman Ambursa who was previously on the Rivers State National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal panel.

Although no reason was advanced for the sudden change, Vanguard learned that the security agencies working in concert with the leadership of the National Judicial Council had been discreetly monitoring activities of the heads of the tribunals using secret agents to ensure that they do not compromise their positions.

A top official of one of the judicial agencies told Vanguard last night that the sudden removal of the chairman of the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal, which sparked protests in Abuja yesterday, might not be unconnected with adverse security reports.

Although the source did not say what the removed jurist might have done to warrant his sudden replacement with another, he maintained that the action received the full support of the leadership of the judiciary.

“The truth of the matter is that the tribunals are being monitored by both security agencies and the NJC to ensure that the outcome of the panels reflected nothing but the truth,” the top judicial officer said.

“Indeed, the chairmen and members of the tribunals are being closely monitored by the security agents working in concert with the NJC to ensure the integrity of their verdicts.

“What is happening is in line with the vision and resolve of the new leadership of the Judiciary in Nigeria and there is no hiding place for anyone who deviates from that vision,” the official, who requested for anonymity, said.

Findings showed that the appeal court was uncomfortable with the situation in which the orders of the tribunal were blatantly rebuffed with the chairman not being able to firmly enforce its decisions, thereby making a mockery of the judiciary.

It was gathered that more tribunals who were depending on technicalities to knock out good cases might also kiss the dust while those who use delay tactics to frustrate cases were also being identified for appropriate sanctions, but no names were given.

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