Rivers APC National Assembly candidates ask judge to recuse self from PDP suit indicting them
•Want case reassigned, relocated to Abuja
Rivers State All Progressives Congress (APC) National Assembly candidates for the 2023 general elections have asked Justice Stephen Daylop Pam of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt to recuse himself from presiding over a case marked: FHC/PHC/CS/127/2022, brought by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and 17 others.
In the suit, the PDP is asking the court to compel the electoral umpire to annul the National Assembly primaries held by the APC in the state for alleged irregularities.
But the defendants, in an oral application on July 25, 2022, requested Justice Pam to recuse himself from the suit, citing lack of confidence in his judgment.
In furtherance of their call, the candidates, during a press briefing at the party’s secretariat in Port Harcourt, yesterday, alleged a plot of being ‘lured and goaded into a dangerous trap’ if the judge continues with the case, insisting that the matter should be reassigned to another arbitrator, preferably in Abuja.
Spokesperson for the group, Ezekiel Amadi, in a statement, signed by 16 others, said they are “surprised at the seeming reluctance of the judge to toe the simple path of honour and recuse himself from this matter.”
He continued: “As you would recall, this suit came up on Monday, July 25, 2022, on which date, I appeared in person – that is I appeared for myself as the 12th defendant – and brought to the attention of Justice Pam my then pending application for him to recuse himself from the Suit.
“In response to my oral application, the judge informed me that he was aware of my application, but that it would be taken subsequently at the hearing of the suit. Since the judge, being aware of my said application and neither mentioned it in open court as he should have, nor agreed to hear it on that day but rather chose to adjourn the suit for hearing despite my repeated protestations, I sensed a trap and therefore addressed the press on that said date, to alert the wide world of the pendency of my application for the judge to recuse himself.”
The spokesman explained that between July 25 when the matter came up in court and August 18, further applications were made individually by the rest 16 defendants to the Administrative Judge of Port Harcourt division and Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, requesting that the matter be withdrawn from Justice Pam and reassigned to another judge.
Amadi continued: “Today (yesterday), we have gathered here – the 16 of us individually and represented – as the National Assembly candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 general elections, to add flesh to our collective insistence that Justice Pam recuses himself from the suit against us and before him.
“Following our letters, the Administrative Judge, via a letter dated August 8, 2022, directed that we go back to the same court and apply orally to Justice Pam so that he will write a considered ruling on our application.
“We find this directive by the Administrative Judge bizarre because as the 12th defendant in the suit, it was this same oral application that we are now expected to go back and make before Justice Pam, which I made on July 25, 2022.
Therefore, as far as we are concerned, and being lawyers as some of us are, we know that we are merely being lured and goaded into a trap because with the benefit of experience in legal practice, we know that there is palpable danger in this procedure as Justice Pam will no doubt overrule us and foist on us a situation of helplessness while then proceeding to deliver an already prepared judgment in the substantive suit, which judgment that you guess would definitely be against us.”