The Court of Appeal has debunked speculations that its decision to change the panel of Justices of the Part Harcourt division of the court, which is hearing the appeal filed by a former Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government of Rivers State, Ojukaye Flag Amachree, accused of murder, smacks of foul play.
A Rivers State-based group known as Integrity Friends for Truth and Peace Initiative (IFTPI), had in a statement issued at the weekend claimed that changing the panel to hear the bail application by Amachree amounted to abuse of judicial powers.
But the court’s Media Officer, Sa’adatu Musa said, in a statement yesterday that the decision of the court’s President, Zainab Bulkachuwa, to consttitute a fresh panel to hear the application, was sequel to a request to that effect by Amachree’s lawyer, Ken O. Atsuwete.
Mrs. Musa said: “On 13th June, 2016, a letter was received by the office of the Hon. President from one Ken O. Atsuwete, Esq. a Solicitor in the Law Office of K. O. Atsuwete & Co. located at No. 42, Isiokpo Street, D/Line, Port-Harcourt, Rivers and representing the Appellant in the case of Ojukaye Flag Amachree v. The State (CA/PH/16CR/2016).
“In the said letter, the Solicitor requested His Lordship for an assignment of his Client’s bail application to a fresh appeal Panel. In order to safeguard the integrity of the local Panelist and in exercise of his constitutional powers, his Lordship constituted a new Panel to determine the bail application”.