By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
A senior member of the Calabar branch of the Nigerian Bar Association and former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Cross River State, Barr. Attah Ochinke was yesterday strongly rebuked by the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division during the hearing of appeals borne out of the judgments of the Election Petition Tribunals delivered in September 2019.
The strong rebuke was occasioned by Mr. Ochinke’s “irregular approach” to Court Proceedings.
Ochinke, who had announced his appearance as counsel to the Cross-Appellant, Hon. Friday Okpechi of Obubra 1 State Constituency in the election petition appeal between Ehie Leonard Ogwa & Anor and Hon. Friday Gabriel Okpechi & Ors had served the Respondents to the Cross-Appeal during the Court session that morning and insisted on arguing the Cross-Appeal.
This was without recourse to the Respondent’s right to reply and fair hearing. In addition, the Court noted that Barr. Ochinke had participated in arguing the substantive appeal on the same matter, where judgment was also reserved before bringing up the Cross-Appeal.
His insistence obviously irritated the panel of three justices of the Court of Appeal who were hearing the matter. The Chairman of the Panel, Justice Tijani Abubakar frontally berated Mr. Ochinke and accused him of being a problem to the judiciary.
The panel noted that Mr. Ochinke, a senior learned counsel, was one of those lawyers who constitute a clog in the wheel of the justice delivery system by filing frivolous appeals and insisting on arguing them. In the Panel Chairman’s words “.
Some senior lawyers are a problem to the judiciary and you are one of them.
The respondents to the Cross-Appeal who needed to formally reply and be prepared to argue the appeal are Ehie Leonard Ogwa, All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).
On that day, the panel of justices of the Court of Appeal in Calabar heard 17 appeals from various election petition litigants and reserved judgments in 16 while dismissing one of the matters.
Some of the appeals argued and awaiting judgment included the cases of Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba and Senator Dr. Sandy Onor; Chief Wabily Nyiam and Senator Rose Oko; Hon. Dr. Alex Egbona and Rt. Hon. John Gaul Lebo; INEC and Rt. Hon. John Gaul Lebo, Hon.
Bassey Akiba and Rt. Hon. Ntufam Eta Mbora, etc. The dismissed matter was the application by Barr. Egbe Eworo to be joined in the Alex Egbona and John Gaul Lebo’s matter.