By Mfonobong Ukpong, Abuja
As the final verdict of the Akwa Ibom Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that has concluded its sitting in Abuja is being awaited, the facts before the tribunal appear to tilt the impending judgment in favour of the incumbent governor.
At the final session of the tribunal before Justices A.S. Umar, K.O. Dawodu and P.T. Kwahar on Thursday, October 8, the written addresses of the legal counsels were adopted.
The counsel to the first respondent, Mr Udom Emmanuel in their submission adduced a long list of multiple errors, contradictions and inconsistencies that bedeviled the petition of the APC governorship candidate, Mr Umana Umana.
The respondents noted that Mr Umana Okon Umana and the All Progressives Congress (APC) presented very defective doctored witness statements which saw all the 45 witnesses, except Mr Umana presenting similar witness statements with the same words and paragraphs.
The 1st respondent noted that the written dispositions of Umana’s witnesses were haphazardly mass-produced and names of witnesses, units, wards, and local governments inserted, and maintained that the written statements of Umana Umana’s witnesses lacked the well-known individuality and distinction required of legal deposition, which affects the weight the court attaches to them.
The 1st respondent was of the opinion that “interestingly, Paragraph 8 of all Umana’s witnesses statements were the same,” and urged the tribunal to attach probative value on such evidences in line with the position of the law.
“They all wrote that their party agent called them by 8am to inform them that there was no election. There were several other irritatingly repetitive paragraphs that would better not be repeated here.”
Governor Udom’s counsel asserted that the Supreme Court’s position on such repetitions is trite as in the case of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) v Rear Admiral Murtala Nyako and others ( 2012) LPLR-1964SC when the Supreme Court ruled that such evidence has little or no value at all.
In the words of Hon Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, JSC who delivered the leading judgement, “Firstly, the court is right to have affirmed the tribunal’s resolve to attach little or no probative value to the statements of the witnesses and for all the right reasons articulated in the tribunal’s judgement.”
Justice Muhammad judgement furthered that, “significantly, it is logical for any tribunal to infer from the defects in the process of recording the statements of the witnesses as well as the uniformity in their content that the statements are unlikely to be the dispositions of those the appellant’s purports they are”.
To this effect, the inherent defects in the statements of Obong Umana’s witnesses is that those statements were not written by the witnesses and they defaulted by falsely admitting on oath, documents not written by them.
Lead counsel to the petitioner Wole Olanikpekun at the end of the sitting told reporters that his team has done everything to prove that legal election was not conducted in Akwa Ibom State in April 2015.