It was a sober tale of disappointment for the April 11, 2015 candidate of the APC in Akwa Ibom State at the ongoing elections tribunal when his lawyers watched helplessly how all the seven witnesses effectively countered the claims by APC witnesses and informed the court that credible elections did hold in the state.
To compound the misfortune of the defeated APC governorship candidate, the witnesses went further to intimate the tribunal that APC masterminded election irregularities in some parts of the State.

A surveyor Mr Felix Emmanson Udo of Ikot Ide, Nto Edino in Obot Akara confirmed his earlier deposed testimony that election was successful in all parts of Obot Akara except in four units in Nto Edino because some thugs allegedly hired by the APC House of Assembly candidate, who hails from the village, ran away with the election materials.

Under cross examination by the APC counsel Dayo Akinlaja, Mr Udo restated that he was present at his unit and he was duly accredited by INEC officials following the failure of the electronic detector to recognize his thumb print. When asked to mention APC agents in his area, he replied that he was a member of PDP and had no affiliation with APC.

He affirmed to the court that even with the hitches caused by the APC, election was reportedly held in all other parts of the area.
Mr Uduak Ekpewo told the tribunal that an APC Chieftain General Edet Akpan on election day on April 11 led his army bodyguards to forcefully cart away election materials in over 7 units thereby disenfranchising the voters who had thronged out to vote and cancellation of elections in Units 2-7 of Nsit Atai Ward 2.

Mr Ekpewo, who was the PDP agent in Unit 1,as well as the Local government collation agent of the party, said he saw when the retired army general was whisked away by the security agents who passed through his unit to Uyo the state capital.

Being led in evidence by Counsel to the PDP Tayo Oyetibi(SAN), Mr Ekpewo told the tribunal that the APC candidate for Nsit Atai state constituency Mr John Harry came to the local government collation center to advise the APC agent against endorsing the result sheets, following the arrest of their leader Gen Akpan by the security agents.

The witness under cross examination by Mr Solomon Umoh(SAN), the lead counsel for Mr Umana Umana insisted that General Akpan was arrested and charged to court for electoral offences.
An attempt by the petitioner to use a statement earlier deposed by Mr Lawrence Udosen was swiftly objected by counsel to the first respondent Paul Usoroh(SAN), who referred the tribunal to its earlier decision that any statement by any witness not admitted in the tribunal cannot be used to discredit another witness.

The petitioner later tendered a document to show the Justice Sadiq Umar-chaired tribunal that the case against the retired general had since been dropped; to which Chief Tayo Oyetibi(SAN) counsel to PDP, promptly informed the tribunal that the document only showed that Gen Akpan was discharged for want of prosecution and was actually not acquitted by the court.
Another witness, Emmanuel Mbong from Eket LGA testified that he served as Local Government collation officer for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and that the APC collation officer for the area Samuel Udobong , in company of the APC chapter chairman Godwin Akwaowo and the House of Assembly Candidate Godwin Isang told him at the local government collation center that he had been directed by the State leadership of the party not to sign any result form and that he was also trying to get in touch with his party’s ward agents to stop them from signing the result forms.

Mbong also explained that he had to immediately rush and represent the party at nearby Ward 1 at St Francis School, Ikot Ataku after completing his ward collation at Ward 3 headquaters in Usung Inyang, because the agent for Ward 1 called him to inform him that he had an emergency situation involving his wife which needed medical attention.at CC1and CC3 being results of Eket urban ward 1 and Eket urban ward 3. He agrees that he signed for both ward 1 and ward 3. Solomon Umoh SAN objects that he cannot state that at cross examination as it is not in the pleadings and not stated in his statement. The court overrules on the objection. Dayo Akinlaja SAN attempts to inject a supreme court authority on the matter and tribunal judge, Umar Sadiq warns against lawyers for APC interjecting indiscriminately. INEC counsel asks DW17 if it is correct to say that election materials were not distributed to which he says it is not correct because materials were distributed in the LGA and he did not receive any complaints to the contrary.

On whether he was shown the total number of registered voters in Eket by INEC before the election, Mbong replied,Solomon Umoh, “who am I to for INEC to bring registers to my house?”
He said that contrary to the testimonies of witnesses of the first petitioner that there was election in only two wards, that there was election in all the units in Ibiono LGA.
He said the people of Ibiono did not vote for Obong Umana because they felt he betrayed the party that made him. He says the people did not hesitate to vote against him.
He said that contrary to the testimonies of witnesses of the first petitioner that there was election in only two wards, that there was election in all the units in Ibiono LGA.
He said the people of Ibiono did not vote for Obong Umana because they felt he betrayed the party that made him. He says the people did not hesitate to vote against him.
He said that contrary to the testimonies of witnesses of the first petitioner that there was election in only two wards, that there was election in all the units in Ibiono LGA.

Two other witnesses Mr Inemesit Sunday Itina, and Obong Emmanuel Titus from Etinan also appeared before the tribunal today to debunk an earlier testimony of petitioners witness Number 6, Mr Iniobong Jackson.

Mr Itina and Obong Titus representing two different wards from Etinan said contrary to claim by Mr Iniobong Jackson, that there was actually due accreditation and election in Etinan in which the governorship candidate of the PDP Mr Udom Emmanuel emerged victorious.

The second witness Mr Inemesit Sunday Itina from Ikot Osong Iman, Etinan local government said he voted at his unit, the Cooperative Hall, Ikot Osong, Northern Iman, Ward 1, Etinan LGA.

During cross examination, Mr Itina who admitted to being a former councilor said as at the time he voted, there were other voters at the unit and that there was no violence at his unit and his ward.
On his part, Obong Emmanuel Titus from Mbioto 1 in Etinan who identified himself as the party’s agent in the ward said he had voted at Unit 003,Ward 1 before proceeding to Community Secondary School, Asuna where the ward collation took place.
Before adjourning for the first part of the day, the tribunal also listened to a retired sailor Mr Attih Okon James who equally insisted that elections in his unit were free and fair, and that after three attempts when his thumb could not be captured by the machine, the INEC staff resorted to manual accreditation.
Solomon Umoh SAN and Dayo Akinlaja led the APC Governorship Candidate’s legal team today.

Another witness Attih Okon James from Ebighi Okpo, Esit Eket also confirmed that he voted on April11, 2015 election. The defense witness explained to the tribunal that he was accredited manually by the INEC official who tried unsuccessfully for three times to get him accredited with the card reader and that his name was ticked by the INEC official and later was called upon to vote under a peaceful atmosphere.

On his part, Mr Nicholas Andy a former Chairman of Ibiono Ibom while being led in evidence by Chief Tayo Oyetibi(Counsel to the 2nd respondent) said the people of Ibiono Ibom did not vote for Obong Umana of the APC because they had a pact with the PDP which has accounted for so many development projects in the area(to which the petitioner’s counsel Solomon Umoh mentioned like Nung Udoe- Itak-Use Ikot Amama Road,” and there was general laughter.

Andy said elections held in all the 161 polling units in the LGA and that there was no record of violence.
When cross examined by counsel to the petitioner Dayo Akinlaja(SAN) on why only PDP and INEC officials signed in all the elections forms, he told the lawyer that it was not his duty to enforce the responsibilities of his opposing agents.

Mr Andy who served as Local Government collation officer for the PDP in Ibiono Ibom said that contrary to the testimonies of witnesses of the first petitioner that there was election in only two wards, that there was election in all the units and that since inception in 1998, PDP has never lost a single position even at the councillorship level in the area.

He said the people of Ibiono did not vote for Obong Umana because they felt he betrayed the party that made him. He says the people did not hesitate to vote against him.
He said that contrary to the testimonies of witnesses of the first petitioner that there was election in only two wards, that there was election in all the units in Ibiono LGA.

PDP is expected to commence her defense tomorrow with the testimonies from its witnesses.

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