Ekpenyong’s woes continue at tribunal as witnesses fumble
•••His forensic expert studied Geography and Regional Planning
The woes of Engr Chris Ekpenyong at the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo got compounded on Wednesday as the witnesses he called could not sustain his case.
Engr Ekpenyong of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was declared winner of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC.)
Senator Godswill Akpabio is challenging Ekpenyong’s declaration in the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo and had presented 18 witnesses and several exhibits to prove that he won the election with a wide margin.
At the resumed hearing of the petition on Wednesday, an INEC staff who was subpoenaed by the Tribunal, Geraldine Okpashi had claimed that materials meant for Okon Ward in Essien Udim LGA were allegedly hijacked by APC agents and the hijacked materials were used in producing results for 17 polling units.
Led in evidence by Counsel to the PDP Solomon Umoh SAN, Okpashi had claimed that INEC officials were forced to enter results in favour of APC. She made this claim in her statement on oath.
However during cross examination by S. I. Ameh SAN, Counsel to Senator Godswill Akpabio, the INEC staff was told to read the results of the entire 20 units of the Ward. According to the certified true copies of the INEC results, PDP had won in 15 of the units.
According to Ameh, “I put it to you that you have 20 result sheets in your hand and 15 were won by PDP. Do you still maintain that these results were hijacked and results written in favour of APC,” he asked the bewildered INEC staff.
Responding Okpashi who was apparently jolted by the question said: “that is what I have seen from these result sheets. I still maintain that INEC ad hoc staff were forced to enter results in favour of APC,” to which the court erupted in loud laughter.
Continuing the INEC staff, Okpashi had claimed that APC agents had brought permanent voter’s cards that were slotted into card reader machines to generate huge figures for the APC.
However, when she was asked if it was possible for smart card reader machines to accredit voters and generate figures without the corresponding thump print of the voters, she stunned the tribunal when she answered in the affirmative.
Another glaring contradiction was that INEC in her response to the petition never mentioned Okon Ward as having been plagued by violence during the elections however their staff, Okpashi contradicted them and claimed APC agents carted away election materials but the result turned out to be in favour of PDP.
Earlier, another subpoenaed witness one Edidiong Ofonime Udo who claimed to be a forensic expert was found during cross examination by Ameh, SAN that the only degree he possessed was in Geography and Regional Planning.
The self acclaimed forensic expert was brought to counter the video earlier tendered and admitted at the tribunal by Anietie Ekong, media aide to Senator Akpabio. However the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice W. O. Akanbi had overruled attempts by Counsel to Ekpenyong, PDP and INEC to replay the CD in open court. The tribunal found the procedure strange and unacceptable.
The tribunal adjourned further hearing to Friday, July 12, for Ekpenyong to close his case.
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