Breaking: Again, Tribunal upholds Eno’s victory as Akwa Ibom governor

The Akwa Ibom State Governorship Elections Petitions tribunal sitting in Uyo, Friday, upheld the election of Pastor Umo Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the validly elected Governor of Akwa Ibom state.

Accordingly, the tribunal dismissed the suit instituted by Senator Bassey Albert Akpan and his party, the Young Progressives Party (YPP) which challenged the election of the Akwa Ibom state governor.

This was the summary of a two and half hour judgement by the tribunal in suit Number EPT/AKW/GOV/01/2023, which sought to nullify the elections.

The tribunal upheld the preliminary objections concerning jurisdiction and non-qualification of the 2nd Respondent and declared that Pastor Umo Eno was eminently qualified and that the earlier judgement of the Supreme Court in the case filed against him by Mr. Akan Ekpe Okon was binding to all human beings in the world, including the petitioners.

The unanimous judgement read by the panel chairman, Justice Adekunle Adeleye fumed at the petitioners for abuse of the judicial process in resurrecting the matter already buried by the Apex Court.

The tribunal also decided that the petitioners lacked the locus to challenge how the 3rd Respondent, PDP conducted its primaries to produce a candidate.

In striking out the accusations of electoral infractions leveled against Hon. Iniobong Robson Nnamso, the tribunal ruled that the said person was not joined as a respondent in the case by the petitioners and any decision taken under such circumstances would amount to a lack of a fair hearing.

On another WAEC certificate of 1998, which the petitioners purported to belong to the 2nd Respondent, the Tribunal upheld the objection of the 2nd respondents, that it was a fresh allegation that was not in the main petition and that since the time for amendment of petitions had long elapsed, the petitioners were merely attempting to spring surprises, which run contrary to the provisions of the law.

Delivering judgment on the matter on its merit, the Tribunal further ruled that Pastor Umo Eno did not present a forged WAEC certificate as the WAEC official summoned via a subpoena as PW10, authenticated the certificates.

“WAEC did not disclaim the 1981 and 1983 WAEC certificates. Without a disclaimer by the issuing authority, the certificates remain valid.

“There is no legislation in Nigeria that a person’s name should be arranged on a particular order on a document.

“In the absence of any other person holding claims to the said 1981 and 1983 WAEC certificates, I hold that the certificates belong to the 2nd Respondent.

“Even the 1st Petitioner himself told the court he was a victim of the same issue as three documents bearing his name tendered as exhibits before the tribunal carried different arrangements of his name, Albert Bassey, Akpan Bassey Albert, and Bassey Albert Akpan. This is a case of a pot calling a kettle black,” the tribunal ruled.

The tribunal also dismissed the testimonies of APC wards and local government collation agents who were paraded as witnesses of the petitioners as their testimonies were speculative and mere heresy.

The tribunal ruled that a witness PW16, Daniel Edet Akpan, presented by Senator Akpan, as a staff of the University of Uyo, was a liar.

According to the tribunal, the witness claimed to have been admitted as a student of the Quantity Survey of the University of Uyo in 1998 and graduated in 2021, spending over 22 years on the course.

The tribunal also wondered how a senior staff of a university, could not know the meaning of CONTISS, could not remember his telephone number, did know his gross salary and take-home pay, and came to the court with a mask and fez cap, an indication that he was hiding something.

Accordingly, the tribunal discountenanced the evidence of the said Daniel Akpan and described him as an impostor, while also dismissing all the exhibits he tendered.

On the report of a so-called statistician (PW17) relied upon by Petitioners, the Tribunal ruled that the report is of no probative value because it was founded on reports of Petitioners’ unit agents who were never called to give evidence on their so-called Reports.

The tribunal also held that the Statistician who confessed to having not been involved in any electoral matter before now also admitted being well paid by the petitioners and as such had obligations to please his clients.

In summarising its decision, the tribunal further adjudged that the 2nd Respondent’s witness RW1, Uwem Okoko, tendered all the local government results of the election and none was objected to by the petitioner, hence the decision of the tribunal to uphold same.

On the whole, the tribunal dismissed Bassey Albert’s petition as frivolous and baseless and ratified the election of Pastor Umo Eno as Governor of Akwa Ibom State.

Counsel to the 2nd and 3rd Respondents, Paul Bassey, SAN, Uwemedimo Nwoko, SAN, and Barr Emmanuel Enoidem expressed satisfaction at the judgement and called on all parties to join in support of Pastor Eno to move the State forward.

Counsel to petitioners, Tunde Olaola, said the tribunal is not the final bus stop as there was room for appeal by his client.

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