After almost a week of exchange of blames and accusations, the Legal team of Senator Godswill Akpabio(Akwa Ibom Northwest) on Tuesday inspected election materials used in the last senatorial election in the area.
Our correspondent confirmed Akpabio’s team of lawyers led by Patrick Umoh was at the state headquarters of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Udo Udoma Avenue, Uyo, Akwa Ibom state by 10am for the inspection.
It was gathered that the ongoing inspection process was stopped last Tuesday because of the Easter holidays after Akpabio’s lead counsel Umoh had accused INEC of preventing them from accessing and inspecting the materials.
They were led by the INEC officials to the Strong Room where the materials stacked in heaps were sorted out.
However, Barrister Ekom Nwoko, one of the lawyers representing the PDP at the Tribunal, said he was at the venue to observe inspection by the petitioners having been joined as a respondent in the matter.
Nwoko disclosed that the PDP and the first respondent, Dr. Christopher Ekpenyong have filed a motion for the Tribunal to set aside some reliefs granted exparte at the Tribunal especially forensic examination of election materials.
Expressing the hope that some reliefs would be set aside, Nwoko added: “Our motion is premised on section 151 of the Electoral Act, and inspection of Electoral materials does not cover forensic examination of materials.
“That is the premise of our motion. And likely, the motion will come up next week, but we have not got a date yet”
Speaking in an interview few hours later, the Public Affairs Officer of INEC, Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Don Etukudo, said the legal team was able to sort out the election materials for the ten local government areas.
His words: “You have seen that the inspection process is going on. The legal team of the APC started the process of inspection of the election materials when we took them to the Strong Room and they saw the materials.
“What the APC legal team has been able to do today is to bring out the election materials for all the ten local government areas. By tomorrow (Wednesday) they will start the actual inspection of the materials. They will start with Abak, Etim Ekpo and Ika local government areas.”
Etukudo who noted that the team was able to sort out election materials for the ten local government areas before 4:00pm, stressed that he had no doubt that the challenge of sorting the materials out from the stacked heaps would be surmounted.
Asked when inspection of materials for other cases at the Tribunal would commence, Etukudo explained that the Tribunal asked the commission to make materials available to only Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district.
Senator Godswill Akpabio of the APC had few weeks ago approached the Election Petition Tribunal in the state to challenge the results of the February 23, 2019 elections which saw Dr. Christopher Ekpenyong, of the PDP winner.
(C) The Nation.