The victory of Gov. Udom Emmanuel in the March 9, 2019 governorship election has been confirmed by the court. The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, handed down the confirmation in a unanimous verdict 0n Thursday.
Justice A.M. Yakubu, who led a three-man panel of judges in his led judgement dismissed all the evidence of the petitioner tendered without witnesses, declaring that, “without oral evidence to confirm how the materials were arrived at, such evidence are considered as being dumped in the tribunal.”
Mr Yakubu held that the petitioners failed to call witnesses in eight local government areas out of the 21 where they claimed to have won. Consequently, the tribunal discountenanced every documentary evidence that was brought before it.
While relying on the Supreme Court judgement in the case of Nweke V INEC, the court ruled that “documentary evidence, however daring, cannot be thrown on the Tribunal without oral evidence linking the documents to the issues in the petitioners’ case.”
The tribunal held that the petitioners, having abandoned their prayers where they claimed that the first petitioner, Obong Nsima Ekere, was the winner of the election, all the evidence given in effort to substantiate the said ground is expunged from the considerations of the court in the judgment. The judgement according declared that the petitioners failed to follow the laid down rules in front loading and listing all documents they sought to rely on in proof of their petition.
The judgement went on to pronounce that “Consequently the efforts and attempt by the petitioners to sandwich-in documents not pleaded nor listed by the petitioners is condemnable,”
The court also 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.
The petitioners, Obong Nsima Ekere of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and his party had filed a petition challenging the result of the election as declared by Independent National Electoral Commission which confirmed Mr Udom Emmanuel as the winner and thus reelected as the governor of Akwa Ibom.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom state has appealed to its supporters in the state not to give up hope on the party but to remain faithful and steadfast. The party made the call in a statement released after the judgement, by the state chairman of APC, Mr. Ini Okopido. Mr. Okopido said the APC has confidence in the judiciary and has, therefore, “taken the ruling with equanimity”. He said the party has asked its lawyers to evaluate the judgment and advise it on the next step to take.
The victorious defendant, the PDP in their reaction described the tribunal judgment as “divine”.
“Today, the tribunal of men properly constituted by the laws of our land has confirmed the divinely orchestrated, politically engineered and electorally delivered mandate of Deacon Udom Emmanuel as the governor of Akwa Ibom state,” the PDP chairman in Akwa Ibom, Paul Ekpo, said.