Court affirms Albert, Idem, Jonas’ elections in Akwa Ibom
The suspended judgment of the Court of Appeal, Calabar was at the weekend delivered with Senator Bassey Albert of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) retaining his Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial seat.
Mr. Bassey Etim of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had appealed against the victory of Albert at the tribunal, raising five issues which include, that the first respondent (Albert) lied on oath on issue of age declaration, that he intended to deceive on the document he submitted to INEC, that he was indicted by a tribunal on issue of fraud, that the result that declared Albert was not authentic as it was not signed and dated, and that the election result did not follow INEC guidelines.
The member representing Ukanafun /Oruk Anam Federal Constituency, Mr. Uyime Idem also defeated Mr. Uko Ette in the appeal he brought against Idem.
Delivering judgment on four election matters that were earlier suspended, Justice Mohammed Shuiabu, who was the only one that sat to deliver the unanimous judgment out of the three judges, said, all the five issues raised by the appellant were resolved against the appellant as he could not establish any concrete evidence against the respondent.
For instance, on the issue of age falsification, the judge said, “issue of age falsification must be deliberate but the appellant did not lead in evidence that the document was forged with criminal intent and the document from the respondent did not show any difference in date. The issue is resolved against the appellant.”
He noted that the appellant had himself to blame for not sticking to the electoral act, thereby dismissing the appeal, upholding the judgment of the lower tribunal and awarding the cost of N50, 000 to the 1st and 2nd respondent.
On the case of Ette against Idem, Justice Shuiabu dismissed the petition by Ette on the grounds that it was time barred as the petition was filed outside the 21-day specified period.
Quoting several authorities from the Supreme Court and others, he said the issue of 21 days starts counting from the day the result was declared, which was February 23, noting that the petition was filed within 22 days instead necessitating the striking out of the appeal.
The judge also declared the Speaker of Cross River State House of Assembly, Mr. Eteng Jonas, Yakurr 2 of PDP winner in the appeal brought against him by Mr. Ujong Bob Ujong of APC.
He said the appellant did not drive evidence to show that he scored the votes in the disputed areas, in which he said votes were cancelled as the respondent claimed there was no election there. He also dismissed the case.
Reacting to the judgment, Counsel to Albert, Mr. Utibe Nwoko, who stood in for Mr. Solomon Umoh (SAN), said the entirety of the case centered around the documents they said were forged, but the judge was able to establish that there were no discrepancies on age and all issues raised by the appellant. He expressed gratitude to the court for the judgment.
On Idem’s case, Nwoko noted that the petition was incompetent because it was time barred and the doctrine of limitation of action operated against it. He added that there was no need to evaluate evidence and analyse the submission of counsel in that regards. He also thanked the people of Akwa Ibom North East for the victory.
On the other hand, the appellant’s counsel, Mr. G. A. Umoh also thanked the court for the industry in the judgment.
With the rulings, the new six-man panel from Abuja is expected to take over proceedings from Monday next week as further hearing notices have been issued for that date.
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