The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Friday nullified the election of Emmanuel Udom of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor of Akwa Ibom State. The court orders that a fresh election be held within 90 days.
The election of the governor had earlier been nullified by Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Tribunal and a re-run election in 18 local councils of the state was ordered.
The candidate of the All Progressive’s Congress (APC) Umana Umana had challenged the declaration of the Emmanuel Udom as the winner of the governorship election in the State.
Unsatisfied with the judgement of the tribunal, both Emmanuel Udom and Umana Umana headed for the Court of Appeal with different arguments. While Emmanuel argued that he won the elections in all 31 local councils of the State, Umana demanded a total cancellation of the election.
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.’”
But in its judgement on Friday, the five-man panel of the appellate court dismissed Emmanuel’s points and cancelled the entire, noting that tribunal erred in its refusal to comply with section 179 (2) of the Constitution.
“The question is, if there was no collation, can there be said to be an election? Indeed where there was no collation of election, there cannot be said to be an election,” the court affirmed.
Therefore, it ruled that “the entire election is hereby nullified. The election that brought Mr. Udom is hereby nullified.”