Akwa Ibom: Tribunal dismisses Ekere’s petition, rules in favour of Udom Emmanuel
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, on Thursday upheld the victory of Gov. Udom Emmanuel and the Peoples Democratic Party at the March 9, 2019 general elections.
The Petitioners, Obong Nsima Ekere and the All Progressives Congress had on the May 29, 2019 filed a petition challenging the result of the March 9 elections that saw the re-election of Mr Udom Emmanuel as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
The Petitioners approached the tribunal, after several amendments on two grounds, to wit;
“That the election was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2015 (sic); or, that the 1st Respondent, Mr Udom Emmanuel was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
The petitioners, however, submitted the following prayers to the court, which included; to declare that the 1st Respondent, Mr Udom Emmanuel did not secure and could not have secured the majority of lawful votes cast at the elections;
“To declare that the election was void and invalid due to non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2015 (sic) and the election being invalid by reason of non-compliance was null and void;
“That it should order a fresh election for the office of the Governor in Akwa Ibom state, except in Etim Ekpo and Essien Udim where Elections were held in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act, 2015 (sic).
While delivering his judgement, the chairman of the three-man panel, Chief Justice A. M Yusuf, 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, stressing 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 further noted that the documents submitted by the petitioners 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 court also noted that the petitions lacked merit and the Petitioners were not able to prove their case beyond reasonable doubts.
“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 in the discharge of such burden;
“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.” Part of the judgement reads.
In the end, the three man panel, unanimously upheld the election of Mr Udom Emmanuel at the March 9, 2019 elections and dismissed the petition of Obong Nsima Ekere and the All Progressives Congress, APC.