The Anambra Election Tribunal in Awka has declined the application for stay of proceedings in the Anambra Central Senatorial rerun petition between Nkem Ekweozoh and Chief Victor Umeh of the All Progressives Grand Alliance.
Ekweozoh had prayed the court on Wednesday that the matter be transferred to Abuja for alleged attempts on his life by unknown men just outside the State High Court premises where the tribunal was sitting.
APGA and the Independent National Electoral Commission were the second and third respondents respectively in the matter.
The petitioner, who attached an affidavit in support of the motion on notice and written addresses to the motion, said he no longer felt safe pursuing the matter in Awka.
According to Ekweozoh, who appeared for himself on February 16 as he was leaving tribunal/court premises, some group of boys double crossed him with brown a Sienna bus and ordered him to come down.
He said: “But because my car was locked and windows wound up, I drove off, they followed me and I ran to the Central Police Station, Awka.
“On March 23, as I was leaving the tribunal/court premises, I was attacked by some boys but I managed to escape.
“We pray for an order of this honourable tribunal to stay proceedings pending the determination of the application for transfer to Abuja written to the President of the Court of Appeal be determined.
“Time is too perilous for anybody to dismiss threat to life as mere bubbles, we therefore humbly urge your lordship to grant our application.’’
Anayo Emejue, Sylvester Ezeokenwa and J. O. Ajayi who appeared for Umeh, APGA and INEC respectively in their separate responses did not object to the application.
But the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice H. A. Olusiyi, said the election tribunal being time bound could not afford the luxury of granting the order for stay of proceedings.
Olusiyi said that though none of the counsels controverted the petitioner’s claim that there was threat to his life, the tribunal would continue with proceedings and leave the application for transfer to the President of Court of Appeal to determine.
He said: “Although he has shown that there is threat to his live, it is not expedient to stay proceedings as time is of the essence.’’
The judge, who concluded the pre-hearing session, said the coast was now clear for full blown trial.
He admonished counsels and parties to ensure smooth trial by eschewing legal “theatrics and gymnastics’’.
Olusiyi assured the parties that there would be specific days for cross examination and daily sessions if need be.
The matter was adjourned until May 4 for hearing.