Akpabio versus Ekpenyong:
Shock as Akpabio’s lawyer in written addresses exposes fraud
•••Seeks declaration of Akpabio as winner of the Senatorial election.
••• Tribunal set to deliver judgement
Counsel to Senator Godswill Akpabio, S. I. Ameh, SAN has urged the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo to declare the Minister Designate as the validly elected Senator for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District having garnered majority of the lawful votes in the election.
Mr Ameh also submitted that Engineer Chris Ekpenyong, who was declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was not elected by lawful votes but rather, evidence had shown that Senator Akpabio had the highest lawful votes.
The tribunal was thrown into shock when Mr Ameh exposed how the INEC Returning Officer for Essien Udim Local Government Area , Dr Olosunde William, after recording the result for the Local Government Area, took the result to INEC office in Uyo and cancelled the votes of Senator Akpabio to give an edge to his opponent.
According to Ameh, the Returning Officer had admitted that he collated the result for 11 Wards of Essien Udim Local Government in Form EC8B1 handed over to him by the various collation officers. He had also stated that the results were compiled by him in Essien Udim and Akpabio scored 61, 329 votes while Ekpenyong scored 9, 050 votes.
However, in a curious twist, the Returning Officer, without the presence of the party Agents and other officials unilaterally reduced the votes of Akpabio to 6,241 and that of Ekpenyong to 3,422 in INEC office in Uyo.
Ameh submitted that the alteration of Akpabio’s votes at INEC office in Uyo was illegal. “Form EC8C1 which showed the adjustment of the result is dated February 24, 2019. While Form EC8CD1 which showed the result collated by INEC in Essien Udim is dated February 25, 2019. My Lord, that is dishonesty,” Ameh submitted.
Counsel to Akpabio said the appropriate person to write the report of the non-holding or cancellation of the result is the Presiding Officer. All the Presiding Officers who appeared in court when cross-examined responded that they had not cancel any result and they did not know what Form EC40G which should have been used in event of any cancellation was.
According to Ameh, “In the absence of any valid report for the cancellation, the respondents cannot impugn the integrity of the result that were collated by INEC in Form EC81tendered before this Tribunal,” he submitted.
Counsel to Akpabio also drew attention of the Tribunal to the submission by PDP witnesses during cross- examination, alleging that APC thugs carted away all electoral materials in some Wards in Essien Udim, but had no explanation when shown the Card Reader reports and voters’ registers of the same units they claimed were carted away.
However, Ekpenyong, through his Counsel, Kanu Agabi, SAN argued that the Petitioners’ case should be dismissed as they could not substantiate their claims since the depositions they relied upon did not have any evidential value.
The PDP Counsel, Solomon Umoh, SAN urged the Tribunal to dismiss the petition due to the absence of witnesses from polling units to which Ameh responded that the petitioners had no problem with polling unit results as certified true copies showed Akpabio won but their case was the fraudulent cancellation by INEC.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice W. O. Akanbi thanked the parties and Counsels for their cooperation throughout the proceedings. Having adopted their written addresses the matter was adjourned for judgement on a date to be communicated to the parties concerned.