APC Jubilates, As Election Tribunal Judge Delivers Judgement In Favour Of Godswill Akpabio

By Post-Nigeria: September 12, 2019 15:09

APC Jubilates, As Election Tribunal Judge Delivers Judgement In Favour Of Godswill Akpabio

A member of the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Justice Sheriff Hafizu, has said that there is a preponderance of evidence to prove that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, was robbed of his victory in the February 23, National Assembly election in the State.
Justice Hafizu in a split judgement on September 11, 2019, held that it was his view that Senator Akpabio overwhelmingly won the election, and ought to have been returned as the duly elected Senator for Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District.
Recall, that Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was declared winner of the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Senator Akpabio had challenged Ekpenyong’s declaration at the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, citing unlawful cancellation of his collated votes by INEC, to give his opponent an edge in the election.

Delivering judgement on the petition, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice W. O. Akanbi, with the concurrence of Justice Ebetu, dismissed the petition and upheld the declaration of Ekpenyong as the winner of the February 23, National Assembly election of Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District.
However, in his dissenting judgement, Justice Hafizu held that the contention of the Respondents that Senator Akpabio ought to have called unit polling Agents to prove his case is wrong, since Akpabio has not challenged the results of the units, and therefore, there was nothing to prove.
According to Justice Hafizu, the case of Senator Akpabio centred on cancellation of duly collated votes at INEC office, which went beyond the units. He cited the case of Dr. William, who had admitted during trial that Senator Akpabio’s votes were altered at the INEC office, in Uyo, on the instructions of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mike Igini, and said that such alterations were unlawful.
He added that he found merit in the Petitioner’s case, that his collated votes which showed that he won the election was surreptitiously and unilaterally cancelled by an INEC Official, so as to hand over victory to Engr. Ekpenyong.

Justice Hafizu also held that from the evidence adduced during the trial, it was obvious that the Returning Officer had cancelled the votes of Obot Akara Local Government Area, due to an established case of over-voting, and said that it was wrong for the same cancelled results to be revalidated at the INEC office in Uyo.
The Minority Judge held that the witnesses paraded by the Respondents were unreliable, as they gave contradictory evidence during trial. He cited cases of witnesses who had alleged that they were abducted by APC thugs and forced to thumbprint for the party, only for Card Reader reports to put a lie to such claim, a contention that the majority judgement glossed over.
According to Justice Hafizu, INEC was wrong to have cancelled the 61,329 votes garnered by the APC in Essien Udim Local Government Area, against the PDP score of 9,050 votes. He said that the unlawful cancellation of the votes was a clear case of robbery, since it did not follow the due process of INEC guidelines.
The majority judgement also glossed over evidence that was given in the case, including certified true copies of results released by INEC, which were tendered by the Petitioners. It also remained mute on the Police reports that the elections were free, fair and credible, according to the Minority Judge.

Accordingly, Justice Hafizu voided the declaration of Engr. Ekpenyong as the winner of the election, and declared his return invalid. He also declared Senator Akpabio as the winner of the election, having garnered majority of the lawful votes, and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to present a certificate of return to Senator Akpabio as the duly elected Senator of Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District.
Attendees and Lawyers at the Tribunal openly applauded the judgement of Justice Hafizu, describing it as sound and bound to stand the test of time, and devoid of any pecuniary consideration, but justice delivery. Supporters of Senator Akpabio jubilated and congratulated themselves on the minority judgement.
Counsel to Senator Akpabio, Adekunle Oyesanya, SAN, praised Justice Hafizu for his courage in giving the dissenting judgement, representing the position of the law.
It would be recalled, that a Lawyer and Human Rights Activist, Barrister Leo Ekpenyong, had raised an alarm, penultimate week, in a widely published article: “Judgement for sale”, alleging that two members of the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, in Akwa Ibom State, have been compromised, predicting that there would be a split in the judgement.

(FREE) secret Fruits that Increased My Manh0d size and Lasting Power in 7days… CLICK HERE TO GET IT!!!