Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, has validated the election of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as result for the 2019 governorship election held on March 9, 2019.
Delivering a unanimous judgment yesterday, the five-member panel of the court headed by Justice Justice M.A Mishelia, declared that the petitioners failed to prove their case.
The judgment which was read by Justice Tunde Awotoyi, declared that the appeals filled by Nsima Ekere, the governorship candidate of the APC, and his party lacked merit, and therefore rejected their prayers which sought the invalidation of the result declared by the INEC.
The judgment read in part: “The law stipulates that an election shall not be invalidated by the reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act if the election was conducted substantially in accordance with provisions of the act. And that the non- compliance did not affect the result of the election, substantially. See Section 139, sub section one of the electoral act.
“Therefore, when the return of an election is being questioned, on the grounds of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, it does not suffice to prove non-compliance without more, the petition we must be able to go further to prove that the non-compliance was substantial and affected the result of the election. The authorities in this regard are legion.
“The petitioner must not only assert but must be able to satisfy the court that the non-compliance affected the result to justify nullification.
“The evidence adduced was not substantial enough to affect the result of the election. Any proven irregularity and non-compliance has not been shown to be broad-based,” the judge ruled.
The appeal court awarded a cost of N500,000 against the appellant, Nsima Ekere, in favour of Udom who was first respondent.
Reacting to the judgement, Emmanuel’s counsel, Chief Assam Assam, (SAN), said,”The petitioners brought a petition based on allegations, and brought documents that did not relate to the court . The petitioners came to the court and told them that there was no election in Akwa Ibom State, but brought voters’ registers, and there was nobody in the court to testify to the fact that those registers were not used in the election” .