Senatorial Poll: Akpabio
laments INEC, PDP
collusion in cancellation
of his votes
By Iboro Gabriel
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, Senator Godswill Akpabio on Tuesday, lamented the monumental manipulations and electoral fraud that characterised the conduct of the Senatorial election of February 23rd, 2019, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying, “the election that produced Dr Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner was highly skewed against me by the electoral umpire.”
Akpabio made the allegation while testifying as a Star Witnesss in a petition he filed at the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, challenging the declaration of Ekpenyong as winner of the election.
Akpabio said he contested against the PDP and the electoral umpire, INEC.
Led in evidence by his Lead Counsel, Sunday Ameh SAN, Akpabio said: “If this is how INEC is going to conduct election in Nigeria, it is a pity.”
He said in his testimony before the Tribunal Judges that INEC showed a great deal of bias against him by mutilating results from many Polling Units and Wards in his Senatorial District, to ensure that votes for him were either reduced or invalidated to make them insignificant in the overrall result in the district.
Akpabio, who was visibly agitated in the witness box, told the Tribunal that he felt so bad that the election result sheets which showed that he got majority of valid votes were mutilated to favour his opponent.
The former Senate Minority Leader, accused INEC of hoarding election materials when he requested them to prepare his case.
“It was what INEC gave me that I relied on to prepare my case. Out of 169 Polling Units in the district, only in 166 units did INEC give us Certified True Copies of the result sheets.”he declared.
When told by the First Respondent’s (Ekpenyong) Counsel, Mr U. U Njoku, that his claims to winning the election was based on invalidated votes, Akpabio said: “Majority of votes cast for me were lawful while those for my opponent were unlawful.”
In response to Second Respondent’s (PDP), Lead Counsel, Solomon Umoh SAN’s claims that he (Akpabio) did not vote during the election, because there was no election in his polling unit, Akpabio said, “it is a great disservice by INEC to say that the result from my Polling Unit 9, Ward 11 in Ukana West 2, were not recorded in the final result sheet for the local government”
” It is laughable my Lord, to say that I didn’t vote in an election in which I was a candidate. I voted, my wife voted and other members of my family voted. The video played today inside this Tribunal has confirmed to us all that there was accreditation of voters, and people voted peacefully, contrary to claims by the INEC that there was violence in my Unit, hence people didn’t vote”.
Responding to a question from INEC’s Counsel, Robert Emukpoeru, that he (Akpabio) did not apply for Smart Card reader and Voters’ Register because they will not support his case, Akpabio said he knew that they were sensitive materials which were exclusive to INEC.
Earlier, the three-man Tribunal had over ruled the second respondent’s Counsel, Umoh, who objected to the admissibility of Police Report which confirmed that election was peaceful in the Petitioner’s polling unit as against INEC’s claims that the result from the polling unit was cancelled due to violence.
But the Tribunal in its ruling, dismissed the objection raised by Umoh, that a witness cannot give evidence on an exhibit that he had not listed in his deposition and Affidavit on oath.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice W. Akanbi, said the exhibits were conveniently covered by many paragraphs of the Petitioner’s statement on oath and reply to respondents’ response to the Petitioner’s petition, saying, “we are of the view that it is the duty of the petitioner to tender evidence in open court. The court cannot sit in the confines of its home to sort out exhibits to be identified.
“We hold the view that the exhibits are conveniently covered. The respondents cannot say they were taken by surprise. They were lifted from evidence in court”. He, therefore, over ruled Umoh’s objection.
Earlier, a witness, Mr Anietie Ekong, who was subpoenaed by the Tribunal said he would be shocked to hear that there was no result in Unit 9, Ward 11 in Essien Udim Local Government Area, where Akpabio voted in the February 23rd Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Ekong, said, “to say Akpabio did not vote during the February 23rd election is “ridiculous.”
He spoke under cross-examination, after he was asked to present a video clip in the open court by Akpabio’s lead counsel, Ameh, which showed that Akpabio and wife went through accreditation and voting during the election.
He said he was shocked to hear from the INEC that there was no election and that Akpabio didn’t go through accreditation and voting in his polling unit.
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