Friday, December 18, 2015 4:09 pm
The Appeal Court has nullified the entire governorship election held in Akwa Ibom State on 11 April, purportedly won by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Governor Udom Emmanuel.
The decision was handed over this afternoon in the cross appeal filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Umana Okon Umana and the appeal by Emmanuel.
The Governorship election tribunal had initially cancelled the election in 18 of the councils in the state and called for a rerun. But the APC felt dissatisfied and filed an appeal, praying for the cancellation of the entire poll. Emmanuel also felt his election ought to have been upheld and filed several grounds of appeal, including challenging the validity of the candidacy of his APC rival.
Delivering judgment in a cross appeal filed by Umana Umana, All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the election, Justice Adefope Oludotun-Okojie, said that irregularities marred the entire process.
The appellate court set aside the decision of the governorship election petition tribunal which nullified the election in18 out of 31 Local Government Areas in the state.
Justice Oludotun-Okojie ordered that fresh election be conducted within 90 days in compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 across the state.
The Akwa Ibom Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Oct. 21 nullified the election in 18 out of the 31 local Government Areas of the state.
Justice Oludotun-Okojie held, “having established that irregularities in the election were widespread, the tribunal ought not to have spared the remaining 13 Local Government Areas.’’
The court further held that the evidence from all parties showed that there was no collation of results during the purported election.
“In that circumstance, election cannot be said to have been conducted in compliance to the Electoral Act,’’ she said.
Justice Oludotun-Okojie said that non-substantial compliance with the Electoral Act in the conduct of the election entitled the tribunal to nullify the entire election.
She said that there was no dispute that the votes cast on the Election Day exceeded the number of accredited voters for the election.
“With all the proven evidence of malpractices Udom could not have scored the majority of the lawful votes cast.
“From the evidence before us it shows clearly that there was over voting in the entire election in the state,’’ she said.
In his argument before the justices of the appellate court, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), counsel to the APC candidate, prayed for outright cancellation of the entire election.
However, Mr Uwem Nwoko (SAN), counsel to the governor, countered the argument.
He urged the court to upturn the decision of the tribunal and declare his client winner of the election.
Speaking with newsmen after the session, the governor’s legal team vowed to test the validity of the judgment at the Supreme Court.