…Admitted He Used Thugs To perpetrate Election Violence
By Inibehe Udosen
Contrary to his claims that INEC refused him the constitutional rights to vote, Umana Umana the petitioner in the Akwa Ibom State Governorship Elections Petition tribunal sitting in Abuja, was actually the mastermind and perpetrator of election violence in his own polling unit on April 11, 2015.
Umana’s lawyers led by Wole Olanipekun had alleged in their final written submission to the tribunal that “For the first time in history, a co-contestant, like the Petitioner was even denied his inalienable right to cast his vote for himself.”
Olanipekun further stated that, “The petitioner, his family members, associates, local government indigenes, several registered voters, former governors, etc, were disenfranchised with utmost impunity by the respondents.”
But in swift reaction, Counsel to Governor Udom Emmanuel told the tribunal that Umana was a blatant liar who by his own admission, actually used thugs to disrupt the election in his unit under a flimsy excuse that election materials brought by INEC was not enough for the elections.
According to Umana’s statement marked Exhibit 321A, Umana claimed he and his co-travellers took laws into his own hands after he discovered that the available ballot papers were less in number than registered voters in the polling unit.
The counsel to Udom Emmanuel, who described the action as unfortunate, lamented that despite the supply of ballot papers by INEC, and the availability of other election materials, Umana and his cohorts chose to ignite crises and stopped the INEC officials from carrying out their duties, before turning around to criticize the election as being inconclusive.
“He expressly justified the disruption of the election in his polling unit, not because there was no ballot papers, not because the other electoral materials were not supplied by INEC, not even because the ballot papers were exhausted.
Reacting to this, a seasoned lawyer Barr Bassey Nkanang told journalists at the tribunal venue in Maitama, Abuja that it was not proper for anyone to breach the smooth electoral process, under whatever guise as it is against the electoral act. He maintained that allegations of electoral violence leveled against Umana were weighty, and if confirmed by the tribunal, INEC will have no other option than to slam charges of electoral offences against him.
“The Nigerian Electoral Act (as amended) criminalizes violent disruption of elections, and empowers INEC to prosecute such offenders, and going by its provision, any person inciting or causing others to incite people to violence will pay a fine of N500, 000 or spend 12 months in prison or both,” Nkanang posited.
President Muhammadu Buhari in reaction to electoral infractions in part of the country had announced that anybody, whether in the opposition or in the ruling party, that works against the electoral law or constitution will be allowed to enjoy the privileges conferred by the constitution.
Pundits believe that the revelations at the tribunal had completely placed Umana Umana and his cohorts including former Governor Victor Attah in the black book of the President.
While Attah has recently been fingered on the wanted list of scammers of former telecom giants Econet Wireless, Umana is accused of corruptly enriching himself without any other source of income apart from government purse, facts which made Buhari to shun the duo in the selection of ministers for the federal government.
Inibehe Udosen, Mbiaya-Uruan