Appeal Court affirms election of four Akwa Ibom PDP Reps
Four members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the House of Representatives from Akwa Ibom, yesterday, floored their challengers at the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division.
Upholding the judgment of the Akwa State Election Petition Tribunal, which confirmed the election of the four PDP lawmakers, the appellate court dismissed the applications from the All Progressives Congress (APC) petitioners seeking for the setting aside of their electoral victory.
The National Assembly members include, Aniekan Umanah of Abak/Etim Ekpo Federal Constituency, whose election was challenged by Emmanuel Ekong; Michael Enyong of Uyo/Ibesikpo Asutan Federal Constituency, who was challenged by Edem Ekere Ekpenyong and Nse Ekpenyong (PDP) in Oron/Okobo/Mbo/Uruefong Aruko/Odung Uko Federal Constituency, contested by Victor Antai.
However, the fourth case was an application by the defeated APC candidate, Mr. Bassey Etim, in which he prayed the court to set aside the judgement of the old Appeal Court panel.
The old panel had earlier on October 18, not only upheld the election of Senator Bassey Albert (PDP) of Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial, but also affirmed the decision of the lower tribunal.
But dissatisfied with the ruling, counsel to Etim had contended that the judgement was given in contempt of a letter from the Appeal Court President on October 11 setting up a new Appeal Court panel.
Objecting to Etim’s position, counsel to Albert, Mr. Utibe Nwoko, countered that such a letter was an administrative procedure that does not constitute legal grounds on which a judgement could be set aside.
The three Appeal Court judges, including Justice S. Tanko Hussen (chairman), Justices M. Bolaji-Yusuf and M. Mustapha, dismissed the application.
The panel ruled thus: “The exhibits by the applicant are administrative orders and does not show that the Appeal Court acted outside it’s jurisdiction. We see no reason to set aside the judgement, this application is dismissed.”
And ruling in the case of Uyo/Ibesikpo Asutan Federal Constituency, the judges unanimously struck out Ekpenyong’s petition on grounds that there is nothing like Uyo Federal Constituency, stressing that the appeal “lacks merit and substance and the preliminary objection (by Enyong) succeeds. The appeal is hereby struck out.”
Similarly, in dismissing the appeals by Antai and Ekong, the Appeal Court asserted that they were lacking in merit, sine according to them, the appellants failed to prove their cases.
Reacting to the outcome of the four appeals, the Akwa Ibom State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko, appreciated the judiciary in Nigeria “for once again stamping their feet to register the confidence of Nigerians in the judicial system, which actual was shaken recently.”
He said the Judiciary has sustained that courage of exhibiting characters that made them the last hope of the common man notwithstanding the political inclination.
“The judiciary has been able to distinguish itself and acquit itself in terms of capacity, integrity and reputation. The judgements we have obtained have come to affirm the victories of our various candidates in both the federal constituencies and the Senate in Akwa Ibom state.
“This is something that makes us believe that the judiciary is still the beckon of hope in Nigeria,” he added.
On whether similar fate awaits the remaining cases, Nwoko said as those “who were part of the proceedings at the trial tribunals, we expect that all the cases in the appeal will be in our favour.
“I don’t see any difference from what we have in the tribunal. What we have seen now are indicators and pointers to the trajectory of the direction, which the matters might go.”
He urged the people of Akwa Ibom not to expect anything less, remarking that the quality, character and the integrity of the processes have been tested and the witnesses testified.
“I expect that we will not have any problem in the cases before the Court of Appeal,” he reiterated.
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