PDP appeals against Akwa Ibom election tribunal verdict



THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has lodged an appeal against the judgment of the Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Tribunal, which nullified the election of its candidate, Udom Emmanuel and ordered a re-run election in 18 local councils of the state.

Joined as respondents in the notice of appeal, which is before the Court of Appeal, Abuja, are All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the April 11, 2015 election, Umana Okon Umana, the APC, Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State and the Nigeria Police Force.

Lead counsel to the PDP, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), filed a 20-ground of appeal on behalf of his client challenging the decision of the tribunal.

According to him, the tribunal erred in law when it held that the petition against the PDP candidate was not incompetent. He also contended that the tribunal erred in law when it held that there are no allegations of commission of crime in the petition, which require proof beyond reasonable doubt as well as its nullification of the results declared by INEC and ordered a re-run in Onna Local Council.

He said: “The evidence relied upon by the tribunal in nullifying the results of Onna Local Council is that of PW1 who claimed to be a registered voter at Polling Unit 016 situated at Primary School, Abak-Ishiel in Awa Ward 3. The other evidence which the tribunal made use of in nullifying all the other polling units in the local council was inadmissible hearsay evidence. The tribunal manifested the hearsay evidence in its judgment when it held inter alia in respect of the evidence of PW1 as follows: ‘He said he contacted the agents in his local council and they told him the same scenario played out in every polling unit in Onna Local Council.’”

The party also insisted that the tribunal misdirected itself on the fact when it relied on the evidence of PW3 in nullifying the results declared by INEC and ordering a re-run election in Eket Local Council. In the same manner, the appellant argued that the tribunal erred in law for nullifying the results in Ibesikpo Asutan, Ikono, Oruk Anan, Uruan, Ikot Abasi, Etim Ekpo and Eket local councils of the state.
Other local councils whose results were allegedly nullified wrongly are Ibeno, Ibiono-Ibom, Nsit Ibom, Nsit Ubium, Ini, Oron, Nsit Atai, Etinan and Udung Oko.

The appellant said nullifying the results of those local councils on the account of the evidence of PW 48 was wrong because PW 48 admitted in his evidence that elections took place in each of the nine local councils.

The PDP is also dissatisfied with the decision of the tribunal to nullify the election is 18 local councils of the state in order ‘to add credibility to our fledgling democracy’ and described it as ‘political sentiments’ that has no basis in law. They also picked holes on the decision of the tribunal in relying on Exhibit 12, which is a report by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in arriving at its decision.

Other grounds of appeal include the reliance on Exhibit 337, which is a police report whose authors, the appellant said, were not cross-examined as well as nullifying the elections under Section 140 (2) of the Electoral Act 2010, whereas the section does not permit the nullification of results announced by INEC for a local council in a governorship election.

The appellant also said there were irreconcilable contradictions in the evidence adduced by the petitioners among few other grounds.
No date has been fixed for hearing.

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