From Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The National Publicity Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Mr. Rotimi Fasakin, has been summoned by the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal for allegedly calling the five justices of the tribunal “a cash and carry panel”.
Fasakin is to appear before the panel tomorrow to confirm the authenticity of a press statement credited to him by some national dailies in which he allegedly disparaged and maligned the integrity of the justices of the Appeal Court who sit as the Presidential Election Tribunal.
Justice Bayang Akaahs issued the summon in Abuja yesterday in reaction to a publication in the Nigerian Tribune of September 29, titled “Nigeria’s Judiciary Descending to the Abyss.”
Editor of the newspaper, Mr. Dickson Edward, who appeared yesterday at the tribunal along with one of his reporters, Mr. Christian Okeke, apologised profusely to the justices for the embarrassment the offending publication might have caused them.
Edward, however, insisted that the offending publication was based on a press statement e-mailed by Fasakin to the box of the reporter.
In tendering an unreserved apology on behalf of the newspaper, the editor said: “My Lords, I want to tender an unreserved apology to the court. The publication was not in any way intended to impugn on the integrity of the judiciary, as it is not in our character to malign anybody, let alone your Lordships. We appreciate what you are doing.”
The editor’s apology was repeated by counsel to the newspaper, Mr. Akinjide Sadiq, who told the tribunal that the newspaper management felt bad with the offending publication.
Sadiq said before the editor and the reporter were summoned, the management had resolved to retract the public
He assured the tribunal that the retraction and apology would be published to assuage the hard feelings of the justices and to confirm that the newspaper had nothing but respect and honour for the tribunal. The apology however doused the tension created by the publication.
Earlier, counsel to President Goodluck Joanthan, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), Hassan Liman and Chief Amaechi Nwaiwu (SAN) respectively, had in strong terms condemned the press statement of CPC.
They wondered what informed the offending statement when there was nothing to suggest that the panel had derailed.
CPC's counsel, Abubakar Malami (SAN), agreed that Fasakin be summoned to explain himself in the open court on the rationale behind his press statement.