By Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal presided over by Justice A. M. Yusuf, sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Thursday affirmed the victory of Governor Udom Emmanuel and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the March 9 general election.
The petitioners, Obong Nsima Ekere of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the party had, on the May 29, 2019 filed a petition challenging the results of the March 9 election that saw the re-election of Emmanuel as the governor of the state.
The petitioners had approached the tribunal, after several amendments on two grounds, that the election was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2015 (sic); and that the first respondent, Emmanuel, was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
The petitioners had prayed for the reliefs that it may be determined and declared that Emmanuel did not secure and could not have secured the majority of lawful votes cast at the elections.
“That it may be determined and declared that the election was void and invalid due to non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2015 (sic);
“That it may be determined and declared that the election being invalid by reason of non-compliance was null and void;
“That it be determined and ordered 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).”
In giving the judgment, which lasted about five hours, the tribunal first noted that the petitioners failed to call witnesses in eight local government areas out of the 21 local government areas where they claimed to have won.
Accordingly, the tribunal 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 et al and cited a case to support the tribunal decision.
The court in her ruling adopted the two issues formulated by the petitioners for the determination of the suit. The issues as adopted were: “Whether in the light of issues joined, the March 9 elections were not held in non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2010;
“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.”
In the end and after reviewing all the issues bordering on the petition on the point of law, the three-man panel unanimously upheld the elections of Governor Emmanuel at the March 9, 2019 election and dismissed the petition of Ekere and the APC.