The 2023 National Assembly Candidates of the All Progressive Congress Apc in Rivers State has raised alarm over plot in the state by Justice Stephen Daylop Pam of the FHC PHC, Advices him to recuse himself from the matter.
In a press briefing held in Port Harcourt by the 16 Candidates said they have lost confidence in the person of Justice Stephen Daylop Pam .
“Gentlemen of the Press, ladies and gentlemen, good morning to you.
We have invited you here this morning in furtherance of our application for the recusal of Justice Stephen Daylop Pam from Suit No: FHC/PHC/CS/127/2022: PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC PARTY VS INEC & 17 OTHERS.
As you would recall, this Suit came up on Monday, July 25, 2022 on which date, I appeared in person i.e. appeared for myself as the 12th Defendant and brought to the attention of Justice S. D. 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.
Between July 25, 2022 when the matter came up in Court and today, August 18, 2022, further applications have been made individually by the rest of us seated here today, to the Administrative Judge of the Port Harcourt Division as well as to the Honorable, The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, requesting that the matter be withdrawn from Justice Pam and re-assigned to another Judge of the Federal High Court preferably in Abuja.
Today, we have gathered here – the 16 of us individually and represented – as the National Assembly Candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2022 general elections, to add flesh to our collective insistence that Justice Stephen Daylop Pam recuses himself from the Suit against us and before him.
Following our letters, the Administrative Judge by letter dated August 8, 2022 directed that we go back to the same Court and orally apply to Justice Pam so that he, according to the Administrative Judge, “. . . 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, that 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 the Judge – 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.
Permit us to place on record here that justice is rooted in confidence of the Parties to get justice and we do not have any iota of confidence in the outcome of this Suit as long as it is allowed to be determined by Justice Pam.
It may not be possible for us as responsible citizens to publicly reveal and divulge all we know about the relationship between Justice Pam and Governor Nyesom Wike, the Leader of the PDP in Rivers State as well as all we know today, that transpired in the VAT case between the Rivers State Government and the FIRS but we are reminded of a Nigerian adage that when a child is crying and pointing to a particular place, either the child’s parents or toys must be in that place! We know that the relationship between Justice Pam and Governor Wike is a lot deeper than just casual. Any wonder why all the Suits filed by the PDP seeking to delist other Political Parties from the 2023 election ballots, are all assigned to Justice Pam? And we are tempted to ask: Is Justice Pam the only Judge in the Port Harcourt Division? Haba!!!
There are no fewer than 79 Judges of the Federal High Court in Nigeria today. Why then is Justice Pam the only Judge to handle all cases of PDP seeking to bar all other Political Parties from the 2023 elections? Why? Is this not sufficiently curious as to arouse the suspicion of a discerning mind?
We have no doubt that Justice Pam in his closet will find it extremely difficult to deny to himself that there is something clearly untoward about his insistence to handle our case even as we have chorused recuse yourself! Can he deny any contact with the State Legal Adviser of the PDP, Kingsley Chukwu in respect of this matter?
We are surprised at the seeming reluctance of the Judge to tow the simple path of honor and recuse himself from this matter. This indeed is not the first time such a request for recusal by a Judicial Officer is being made. Instances abound even at the Supreme Court where such applications have been made in the past and in response, the concerned Justices towed the honorable path and simply gave way for the matter to be determined by another or other Justice(s). Why is Justice Pam hell bent on hearing a Suit that 17 out of 18 Defendants have risen up and requested him to step aside? Why indeed?
At this point in time, we ask again, is it morally right for the Judge to continue to hear this matter? What manner of judgment is he hoping to deliver in this case? If the judgment is in our favor, would it not be said that we cowed him into making a pronouncement favorable to us? And if against us, would it not be said that it was to punish us for asking him to recuse himself? Is this therefore not a reason compelling enough to make Justice Pam tow the path of honor and hands off this case so that it can be determined by another Judge?
Just before we conclude this address to you, let us draw your attention to a similar scenario that is currently trending from the Akwa Ibom State Judiciary that culminated in the one month jail term of Inibehe Effiong Esq. by the Chief Judge of that State. We will like to also place on record that should Justice Stephen Daylop Pam insist on going on with this case before him despite our repeated protestations that he recuses himself therefrom, we shall vehemently resist him all the way even if it entails joining Inibehe Effiong Esq in the Correctional Centre, for it is better for us to go there while preventing Justice Pam from hearing our matter, than allow him succeed in his mission to foist and visit on us and indeed the Rivers electorate, a repeat of the viciousness of 2019.
We are determined to ensure that nobody yes, nobody will be in charge of our political destinies and careers in this election cycle except us individually and collectively. And we are serious about this!
Thank you all for your attention and for this opportunity to have our voice heard.