Tribunal Upholds Election Of A/Ibom Governor

The Akwa Ibom Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal on Friday upheld the election of Gov. Umo Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The tribunal, in a two and a half hours’ judgment, also dismissed the petition of Sen. Bassey Akpan of Young Progressives Party (YPP) who had challenged the election of the g.overnor.
Delivering the unanimous judgment on the matter, the tribunal held that Eno did not present forged WAEC certificates j as claimed by the petitioner, describing Akpan’s petition as ”frivolous and .
The panel’s judgment, which was read by its Chairman, Justice Adekunle Adeleye, held that a WAEC official, who was summoned via a subpoena as PW10, authenticated the governor’s certificates.
“WAEC did not disclaim the 1981 and 1983 WAEC certificates. Without a disclaimer by the issuing authority, the certificates remained valid.
“There is no legislation in Nigeria that a person’s name should be arranged in a particular order on a document.
“In the absence of any other person holding claims to the said 1981 and 1983 WAEC certificates, I hold that the certificates belong to the 2nd Respondent.”
“Even the 1st Petitioner himself told the court that he was a victim of the same issue as three documents bearing his name tendered as exhibits before the tribunal carried different arrangements of his name, Sen. Akpan, Sen. Akpan Bassey Albert and Bassey Albert Akpan. This is a case of a pot calling a kettle black,” the tribunal ruled.
The tribunal also upheld the preliminary objections bothering on jurisdiction and non-qualification of the 2nd Respondent, and declared that Eno was eminently qualified.
It further ruled that an earlier judgment of the Supreme Court in the case filed against Eno by Mr Akan Ekpe Okon was binding to all human beings in the world, including the petitioners.
Adeleye fumed at the petitioners for abuse of judicial process in resurrecting the matter which had already been buried by the Apex Court.
The tribunal also decided that the petitioners lacked the locus to challenge how the 3rd Respondent (PDP) conducted its primaries to produce a candidate.
In striking out the accusations of electoral infractions leveled against Mr Iniobong Robson, the tribunal ruled that the said person was not joined as a respondent in the case by the petitioners and any decision taken under such circumstances would amount to lack of a fair hearing.
On another WAEC certificate of 1998, which the petitioners claimed belonged to the 2nd Respondent, the tribunal upheld the objection of the 2nd respondent.
The panel ruled that it was a fresh allegation that was not in the main petition, adding that the time for amendment of petitions had long elapsed, hence the petitioners were merely attempting to spring surprises, contrary to the provisions of the law.
The tribunal also dismissed the testimonies of APC wards and local governments collation agents who were paraded as witnesses of the petitioners, stressing that their testimonies were ”speculative and mere .
According to the tribunal, a particular witness, PW16, one Daniel Akpan, who was presented by Sen. Akpan as a staff of the University of Uyo, is in fact a liar.
It explained that the witness claimed to have been admitted as a student of Quantity Survey of the University of Uyo in 1998 and graduated in 2021, spending over 22 years for the course.
The panel also wondered how a senior staff of a university could not know the meaning of CONTISS, could not remember his telephone number, did know his gross salary and take home pay and came to the court with mask and fez cap, an indication that he was hiding something.
Accordingly, the tribunal discountenanced the evidence of the said Daniel Akpan, described him an impostor and dismissed all the exhibits he tendered.
On the report of a ”so-called” statistician (PW17) relied upon by petitioners, the tribunal ruled that the report was of no probative value because it was founded on reports of petitioners’ unit agents, who were never called to give evidence on their reports.
The tribunal also held that the statistician, who confessed to having not been involved in any electoral matter before, also admitted being well paid by the petitioners and as such had obligations to please his clients.
The Election Panel further held that the 2nd Respondent’s Witness, RW1, Uwem Okoko, tendered all the local government results of the election and none was objected to by the petitioner, hence was the reason for its decision to uphold same.
Reacting to the judgment, the Counsel to the first, second and third respondents, Paul Bassey SAN; Uwemedimo Nwoko SAN; and Mr Emmanuel Enoidem, respectively, expressed satisfaction with the verdict.
They called on all parties to support Eno to move the state forward.
The petitioners’ counsel, Mr Tunde Olaola, however, said that the tribunal was not the final bus stop, so there was room for his client to appeal the judgment. (NAN)