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APC, Ekere lose petition to unseat Emmanuel as Akwa Ibom governor

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Gov. Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom. Photo/Twitter/MrUdomEmmanuel

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State and its governorship candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere, have lost their petition at the election tribunal sitting in Uyo to claim Governor Udom Emmanuel’s seat.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Governor Emmanuel of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the March 9, 2019 ballot.

Ekere and APC had, on the May 29, 2019, filed a petition challenging the result of the March 9 elections that saw the re-election of Emmanuel.

They approached the tribunal, after several amendments on two grounds, to claim, among others, that the election was invalid by reason of non-compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2015 and that the first respondent (Emmanuel) was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.

In their petition, the petitioners prayed:
“That it may be determined and declared that the first respondent, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, did not secure and could not have secured the majority of lawful votes cast at the elections; that the election was void and invalid due to non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2015 (sic); that a fresh election for the office of the governor in Akwa Ibom State should be ordered, except in Etim Ekpo and Essien Udim (councils) where elections were held in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act, 2015 (sic).”

Reading the over 590-page judgement, the tribunal first noted that the petitioners failed to call witnesses in eight of the 21 councils where they claimed to have won.

Consequently, it discountenanced every documentary evidence “dumped on the court” as regards the petitioners’ complaints from those councils, which included Abak, Eastern Obolo, Ika, Eket and Mbo Mkpat Enin.

Citing the case of Nweke v INEC at the Supreme Court, the tribunal noted that documentary evidence, however daring, could not be thrown on the tribunal without oral evidence linking the documents to the issues in the case.

In the end, the three-man panel unanimously upheld the election of Emmanuel and dismissed the petition of Ekere and APC.

However, APC has vowed to pursue the case at the Court of Appeal.

State chairman of APC Youth Caucus, Obong Iniobong John, in a statement, described the ruling as a temporary setback for the party, calling on APC supporters to remain calm.

APC’s counsel at the tribunal, Victor Iyanam, said that the party would certainly appeal against the tribunal judgement.

“We are aggrieved by the tribunal judgement and we are going to appeal against the verdict within the timeframe,” he said.

But the PDP attributed the victory to God, while Governor Emmanuel called on the opposition to join him in his mission to develop the state.

“To my fellow brothers and sisters on the opposite end of the political divide, I am extending my hand of fellowship again to them to join me in building a state that would be the pride of us all; an economically-viable, infrastructurally-developed, morally-sound and forward-looking state where the binding cords of unity and brotherhood will be strengthened.

“In every political contest, a winner must emerge and the loser must accept the verdict of the people. The Akwa Ibom people have spoken; they spoke loudly and clearly on March 9, 2019, by overwhelmingly re-electing me for a second term.

“The time has come for us to come together and move our dear state forward. The Completion Agenda is an Akwa Ibom Agenda and we must all be invested in its execution.”


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