The man continued to astound his critics and electrify his supporters.
here was outrage yesterday by supporters of the All Progressive Congress and people of Akwa-Ibom North- West following the National and State Assembly Election Petition tribunal ruling on the Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial election. Candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Inebehe Okori had approached the tribunal challenging conduct of the April election and declaration of former governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio, as winner of the poll.
The tribunal led by Justice Goddy Anunihu, in its ruling said there was nothing legally wrong with 205,519 accredited voters casting 444,505 votes which were declared for former governor Godswill Akpabio. The three man panel comprising the chairman, Justice Goddy Anunihu, Justice A. O. Adebusoye and Justice A. M. Lamido, who were billed to deliver the judgement by 10am, did not arrive the court till around 2.15 pm.
When the panel entered the courtroom at about 2.18 pm and the case was called, the tribunal insisted that though Akpabio’s nomination form read Akwa Ibom North-East instead of North West, his nomination was in order. It also said that the submission of the tribunal that the Card Reader report which proved that only 205,519 voters were validly accredited was admitted in error. He therefore ruled that all evidence emanating from the document be expunged.
The tribunal added that the mode of sponsorship was not specified in the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution and therefore Akpabio’s form reading Akwa Ibom North-East is a clerical error which amounts to a non issue. Justice Aninuhu said there was nothing wrong in INEC correcting the error done by the PDP on the former governor’s nomination form in so far as the PDP nominated only three senatorial candidates from the three senatorial districts.
He ruled that the oral evidence and submission of the National Secretary of the PDP who admitted that the Akwa Ibom North East error on Akpabio’s form was done by his office is enough grounds to correct the documentary evidence rendered by the tribunal and insisted that so long as INEC published Akpabio’s name 30 days to the polls alongside other candidates names, there was nothing wrong with the nomination. Justice Aninuhu therefore struck out the petition and awarded N30,000 cost to the defendants.
Supporters of Akpabio are however unruffled. According to Essien Ndueso, The Akwa Ibom National Assembly Election Tribunal was right to uphold the election of Senator Godswill Akpabio.
He said: Court ruled on following points namely:
1. The Court says Error on nomination form not enough to nullify election. The law expects political parties to name their candidates, the constituency where he represents is a mere detail. The court is justified.
2. Court also said Party has right to sponsor candidates.
3. Court also ruled that Nomination of candidate is the domestic Affair of the party.
4. Alleged Violence on election day cannot be linked to the 1st respondent unless proved beyond reasonable doubts by the petitioner
5. Court is right to reject print out of card reader analysis, Says it is not a document known to law.