The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has dismissed the petition filed by the Governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Nsima Ekere and declared Governor Udom Emmanuel of Peoples Democratic Party , PDP, as duly elected.
In a 559 judgement read by the tribunal chairman, Justice A.M Yakubu, noted that the Petitioners failed to call witnesses in eight (8) local government areas out of the twenty one (21) local government areas where they claimed to have won.
Consequently, the court discountenanced every documentary evidence “dumped on the court” as regards the petitioners complaints from those Local Governments which included Abak, Eastern Obolo, Ika, Eket, Mbo Mkpat Enin e.
Citing the supreme Court case of Nweke vs INEC, the tribunal noted that documentary evidence however daring cannot be thrown on the Tribunal without oral evidence linking the documents to the issues in the case (petition).
The court in her ruling adopted the two issues formulated by the Petitioners for the Determination of the suit.
The issues as adopted were: i) Whether in the light of issues joined, the March 9 Elections were not held in non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2010; ii) Whether the non-compliance as established in evidence are not substantial to affect the general outcome of the election and thus justify a cancellation of the entire elections.
The court then proceeded to appraise the evidence of all parties at the Tribunal and in their considered ruling held, inter alia; 1) That the Petitioners having abandoned their prayers where they claimed ab initio that the first Petitioner, Obong Nsima Ekere was the winner of the elections, all the evidence given in effort to substantiate the said ground is expunged from the considerations of the court in the judgement;
2) That the Petitioners having abandoned their prayers hinged on the ground that there were corrupt practices in the conduct of the elections, all the evidence given in effort to substantiate the said ground was also expunged from the considerations of the court in the judgement;
3) The petitioners failed to follow the laid down rules in frontloading and listing all documents they sought to rely on in proof of their Petition “Consequently the efforts and attempt by the petitioners to sandwich-in documents not pleaded nor listed by the petitioners is condemnable.” The court equally noted that the documents were not linked to any parts of the petition and that most of them were mere photocopies of public documents and not the required Certified True Copies of the documents;
4) That the onus is on the Petitioner who alleges irregularities and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 to prove same. That the Petitioner failed woefully in the discharge of such burden;
5) That the Petitioners could neither prove non-compliance nor substantial non-compliance to lead to a cancellation of the elections. For the Petitioner to have complained of non-compliance and irregularities in elections in 799 polling units and only end up calling 43 was grossly inadequate to satisfy the burden of proving non-compliance and irregularities with the provisions of the Electoral Act which requires a unit by unit prove, by law.
Meanwhile, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel has dedicated his victory at the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo to God and the good people Akwa Ibom State.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Ekerete Udoh, Governor Emmanuel said “Today, the overwhelming victory that the good people of Akwa Ibom State gave me at the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial election was again reaffirmed by the Election Petition Tribunal.
“Let me use this opportunity to thank our ONLY GOD who saw us through the campaigns, the elections and the victory without any loss of lives. This could only have happened, because we believe in God and His presence and guidance has never departed and will never depart from this State.
“To you my dear and great Akwaibomites, thank you for the love, faith, belief and trust you have shown me, your prayers and hope in my capacity to take this State to a place and point that would stand out as a source of reference in what an inspired and people-centric governance can and should be.”
“To my fellow brothers and sisters on the opposite end of the political divide, I am extending my hand of fellowship again 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 abiding cords of our 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 to 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”.