Ekpenyong, PDP urge tribunal to dismiss Akpabio’s petition
Senator Chris Ekpenyong has urged the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, to dismiss the petition filed by Senator Godswill Akpabio challenging his election, on the basis of incompetence.
The former deputy governor argued that the reliefs sought by Akpabio differed from the grounds of his petition.
Ekpenyong, through his counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN), in his written address averred that out of the 10 councils that make up Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial district, the petitioner called witnesses from only two.
He further argued that the petitioner could not substantiate his claims, as the depositions he relied on had no evidential value.
“My lord, you remember each and every one of his witnesses saying ‘my deposition is made up of what I saw and what I was told’. On the authority of Gungiri versus Nyan, the Supreme Court said that if a witness does not distinguish, in his deposition, between what he heard and the things he saw, such depositions have no evidential value,” Agabi said. He insisted that all the witnesses could not differentiate between what they saw and what they heard, and that the responsibility could not be that of the court.
“The depositions were chorusing one another. Why would A, who was in Jericho, have an identical situation with B, who was in Jerusalem?
“The relief of being declared the winner is only available to a petitioner who gets majority of lawful votes.
“In this petition, the petitioners are not seeking nullification of the election; rather they are seeking to be declared the winner. Reliefs must flow from the grounds, and their ground does not avail them,” he added.
The SAN insisted that Akpabio’s situation –where no single agent was called, yet all the witnesses alleged malpractice at the polling units – could be likened to Algebra where one is expected to show the formula and process he used in arriving at his conclusion.
Counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Solomon Umoh (SAN), told the tribunal to dismiss the petition due to the absence of polling witnesses to give life to the claims of the petitioner.
He maintained that “a petitioner who brings his case on fraudulent cancellations must establish two ingredients; that there were cancellations, alterations or mutilations in the electoral document and that the cancellation, alteration or mutilation were dishonestly made to falsify the result of the election.”
Before adjourning the case, the tribunal chairman, Justice A. W. Akanbi, thanked all
parties for their cooperation and announced that a date would be fixed for ruling.
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