Leadership (Abuja)

8 January 2013

Nigeria: Guber Poll - U.S.-Based Human Rights Group Cautions Ondo Election Tribunal

Defenders of Justice and Democracy, a United States of America-based human rights group, has cautioned members of the Ondo state election petition tribunal which will on the 10th of January, 2013, begin its hearing in Akure on the election cases filed against the Labour Party and its gubernatorial candidate, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, against what it described as an attempt to rob the oppositions a fair hearing.

Warning the Justice A. Kaka'n-led panel in a press statement signed by its National Coordinator, Barrister Caleb Oluwole and made available to our correspondent on tuesday, the human rights group warned the tribunal members to avoid any act that would be contrary to the rules and regulations guiding the judicial system.

Defenders of Justice and Democracy also warned in its statement that none of the election petition tribunal's members should entertain financial inducement, unnecessary distraction or lobbying from anybody no matter his status in Ondo state and the country as a whole.

Furthermore, the rights group hinted that there have been reports that some highly placed politicians in Ondo state have been trying to manipulate the outcome of the hearing through the use of financial inducements on the panel members, stressing that all attempts to bring the judiciary to disrepute would be stopped.

According to the statement, the US_based human rights group urged Justice A. Kaka'n and other members of the tribunal to remember that they swore to abide by the code of conduct, not allow any personal interests to influence their official conduct or decisions.

The group also asked them to do justice to all manner of persons without fear or favour, affection and should not be corrupt or do anything to aid or abate corruption.

The statement further reads: "The judiciary is the last hope for common men so we implore the panelists to uphold truth, justice and equity. They should discharge their function for which they were sent to Ondo state in accordance with the oath that they had taken"

It would be recalled that five political parties; the Peoples Democratic Party, Action Congress of Nigeria {ACN}, Accord Party's, Congress for Progressive Change, Peoples Democratic Changes are in the tribunal, challenging the election victory of Labour Party governorship candidate, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko in the October 20, 2012 governorship election in the state.

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