The Appeal Court in Calabar, Wednesday, affirmed the re-election of Udom Emmanuel of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the March 9 governorship elections of Akwa Ibom State.
Nsima Ekere, the Governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, had filed the appeal against the judgment of the Governorship Elections Petition Tribunal delivered on September 5, 2019, in Uyo, which dismissed his petition for lack of merit.
The Tribunal had held that the petitioner could not lead credible evidence to prove his claims that the elections were not conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.
Delivering lead judgment, the court’s five-man panel ruled on all the issues set out by parties in the appeal.
The Appellate Court rejected a series of documents filed by the Petitioner, and saw as unassailable the evidence adduced by the Tribunal.
The court said public documents could not be admissible since they were not properly brought as Certified True Copies the petitioner sought to tender.
On whether the Tribunal was right in holding that the Petitioner/Appellant did not lead credible evidence to prove their case, the Court of Appeal affirmed the Tribunal’s judgment and upheld the Tribunal’s findings on evidence.
The Appellate Court said out of the results of 21 local government areas challenged, the Petitioner did not lead any evidence in proof of their case in eight but scanty evidence which on cross-examination were rendered impotent in other local government areas where they made no effort to prove their claims.
It agreed with the Lower Tribunal for not relying on documents dumped on the Tribunal by the Petitioners/Appellants without being linked by them to any of the issues raised and canvassed by the petitioner.
The court awarded N500,000 cost in favour of the First Respondent to be paid by the Appellants.
Meanwhile, the PDP in Akwa Ibom said the judgment was a confirmation of the “sanctity of the ballot.”
“In the well-considered judgment, the noble Lords of the penultimate court, held the Appeal was lacking in merit, agreeing with the tribunal that the APC did not lead credible evidence to prove their case and that they had dumped documents in the panel without linking them, as required by law,” Ini Ememobong, the PDP spokesperson in the state, said in a statement.
“By this judgment, the judiciary has again shown that justice is directed by law and not federal might, partisan colouration or other extra-legal dispositions. To this, we are deeply grateful to the court and wholeheartedly welcome the judgement.”
The PDP, in the statement, appealed to the APC, once again, to join hands with Mr Emmanuel to develop the state.
“To the opposition APC, we renew our call for partnership in the execution of the Akwa Ibom Project through the vehicle of the completion agenda of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
“We acknowledge the zeal and emotional investments committed to the Governorship quest by Obong Nsima Ekere, an illustrious Akwa Ibom son, who rose to the exalted office of Deputy Governor through the instrumentality of our party. He has fought the fight, ran the race, but the results are not in his favour.
“We urge him to avoid the temptation of escalation of commitment and rather view the Akwa Ibom project as the cynosure and act in the benefit of the larger interest of the people,” the PDP said.
Mr Emmanuel has also appealed to the APC to join his government in building Akwa Ibom. “Together, we will continue to re-write our story,” the governor said on Twitter immediately after the appeal court delivered its judgment.
The APC is yet to react to the appeal court judgment.