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Appeal Court denies resignation of presidential tribunal judge

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The Court of Appeal on Thursday discredited the news that a member of the five-member panel handling petitions seeking to nullify the election of President Bola Tinubu, Justice Boloukuoromo M. Ugo, has resigned.

According to the Vanguard, a ranking official of the court, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, insisted that the report was “fake news,” crafted by an “evil rumour monger.”

The report emanated from different sources on Thursday, after it was reported that Justice Boloukuoromo M. Ugo, had resigned from the bench over the alleged pressure to compromise the ongoing petitions at the PEPC, which he allegedly said, would destroy the country’s democracy.

According to the report, Justice Ugo in his alleged statement maintained that siding with a presidential candidate he did not mention, on the matter, noting that “death of Nigeria’s democracy,” insisting that he could not good conscience, remain silent.

It was further reported that the justice disclosed that he was asked to “cripple the independence of the judiciary.”

According to the source who insisted that “no such thing happened,” no member of the panel who claimed to have interacted together on Wednesday, could confirm the report to be true, nothing that remains a surprise to everyone when they were alerted about the news.

“I was with some members of the panel yesterday and I can authoritatively tell you that there was nothing like that.

“We were shocked when our attention was drawn to the fake news.

The source further explained that all the parties concerned, have been instructed to file and exchange their final written address, within a stipulated time, which has been complied with, noting that, they will all be informed on when to appear in court for adoption of the final process, while the court also fixes the final judgement for the petitions.

“Once the process is completed, the panel will communicate a date for the parties to appear in court to adopt their processes after which the petitions will be fixed for judgement.

The source however restated that the report was false, urging the public to disregard what was described as laughable while insinuating that until someone is made a scapegoat, people will not cease from peddling unfounded rumors.

“So, it is absurd for someone to sit in a corner of his room and concoct lies from the figment of his or her imagination.

“Our attention was equally drawn to another fake news that a former Governor of Rivers State held a meeting with members of the court, outside the country.

“These are very laughable. How can the honourable justices on the panel travel abroad when they have enormous work pending on their desks?

“Please ignore the fake news. It is very unfortunate. Hopefully, before the end of the day, the Appeal Court will issue a formal statement on the matter.

“I believe that unless someone is made a scapegoat, this fake news trend will continue,” the source added.

Meanwhile, in the said “fake news” that is gaining traction on social media, it was reported that a member of the presidential election petition court, Justice Boloukuoromo M. Ugo, had in “a shocking and unprecedented move”, resigned from the bench over pressure from the Executive arm of the government which he believed would destroy the country’s democracy.

According to the report, Justice Ugo, in a statement, maintained that siding with the government on the matter before the court, would be the “death of Nigeria’s democracy,” insisting that he could not in good conscience remain silent.

The report stated that Justice Ugo, in the said statement, disclosed that he was asked to “cripple the independence of the judiciary”, by ruling in favour of President Tinubu.

Besides, he was reported to have claimed that the panel was asked to suppress evidence and dismiss all the petitions against President Tinubu.

However, FIJ’s report, also confirmed that the report was fake.

According to the FIJ, which reported that the report emanated from an Igbo online media ‘Times Magazine, which first reported the purported resignation of the Judge, non of the High Court’s information platforms could confirm the news, while the High Source could not also pick the call.

The platform further explained that the High Judges as well as the lawyers participating in the petitions were also called, and no one was aware of the resignation.

However, the platform further subjected the report to more scrutiny which revealed that there were many inconsistencies in the report pointing to the fact that it was fake news.

According to FIJ, the purported statement released by the Times Magazine to corroborate the claim did not add up with the report.

“In addition to this, he was asked to suppress evidence and dismiss cases that could have an impact on the election.

“Justice Ugo’s resignation has caused an uproar among members of the legal community, who have expressed shock and dismay at the executive branch’s interference in the judiciary.

“Some have called for an investigation into the matter, while others have called for protests and demonstrations. Meanwhile, the election campaign has been thrown into disarray, with many wondering if the election can be considered free and fair under these circumstances.”

However, the platform alsconcludedon that the alleged resignation report was fake.

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