…FAULTS CANCELLATION OF 18 LGAS BY TRIBUNAL

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom state has asked the Court of Appeal to dismiss the ruling of lower court that annulled elections in 18 local government areas of the state.

Governor Emmanuel whose position was contained in a brief of argument submitted by his lead counsel D.D. Dodo (SAN) and Paul Usoro (SAN), noted that the tribunal erred in law when it nullified the Akwa Ibom State Governorship election results and ordered re-run elections in the said local government areas on grounds that “thousands of voters indicated to vote and were disenfranchised.”

He has also urged the appellate court to dismiss the counter appeal filed by the Obong Umana Umana on ground of lacking in merit.

The governor insisted that the tribunal erred in entertaining a petition by Mr Umana Umana who was not qualified to present himself as a candidate, having failed to fulfil the relevant conditions of the electoral law, and urge the appellate court to dismiss his cross appeal.

Citing Section 85 (1) of the electoral act 2010 (as amended), the governor averred that according to stipulation, “every registered political party shall give the commission at least 21 days notice of any convention, Congress, conference or meeting convened for the purpose…nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified under the Act.” He said that the primaries which produced Mr Umana Umana, took place on the 4th of December 2014 which is exactly 16 days after APC’s notice to INEC dated November 19, 2014.

Emmanuel also urged the court to quash the judgement of the tribunal on the basis that Umana and APC did not call voters from each of the polling units in the 18 local government areas where elections were nullified, to tender their voter’s card and voters’ register to show that they were actually disenfranchised from voting but, called in the aggregate, 52 witnesses out of which 4 were classified by them as expert witnesses and were specifically not registered to vote in the Election.

Emmanuel relied on the Supreme Court decision in Ngige and 1 other V Independent National Electoral Commission and 3 others (2015) 1NWLR (Pt 1440) 281 that “disenfranchised voters must testify to show that if they were allowed to vote their candidate would have won the election”, a position the supreme Court had earlier relied on in Ucha and Anor v Elechi and Oke v Mimiko.

Based on this, it was the position of the Governor that for a petitioner to fault the election in any local government area by the provisions of the electoral act, he is to prove the anomaly unit by unit and ward by ward, and argued further that the best eligible person who should testify on the polling unit activities, according to the act, is the polling agent.

Emmanuel said that the tribunal erred and occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice when it relied on testimonies by a single individual to nullify election in an entire local government area.
However in his cross appeal, Wole Olanipekun(SAN), who represented Umana Umana in the court urged the appellate court to set aside the ruling of the tribunal and nullify the remaining 13 local government areas elections result.

The appeal court has reserved ruling on all the appeals to a later date.
Sitting right majestically in the Appellate court was Governor Udom Emmanuel, with some senior citizens including former Governor Idongesit Nkanga, Sir Emem Akpabio, Senator Effiong Bob, Senator Emmanuel Ibokessien, Sen Anietie Okon, Senator Bassey Albert, Rt Hon. Nduese Essien, Sir Val Attah, Gen Anthony Etukudo, Barr Emmanuel Enoidem, Hon Aniekan Umanah and Hon Udo Ekpenyong, Dr. Victor Udoh among others.

Mr Umana was accompanied by his running mate Ben Ukpong and Mr Ita Awak among others. #UdomRemainsGovernor

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