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Akwa Ibom: Tribunal Upholds Gov Eno’s Victory, Strikes Out APC’s Udofia Case

On Thursday, the Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which was in Uyo, upheld Pastor Umo Eno of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as the state’s new governor.

The petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Obong Akan Udofia, contesting Umo Eno’s election victory was dismissed by the three-judge panel chaired by Justice Adekunle Adeleye for lack of merit.

Umo Eno was declared the victor of the March 18, 2023 election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Eno defeated Senator Akpan of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) and Obong Akan Udofia of the APC, who each received 136, 262 and 129, 602 votes, respectively, with a total of 356, 346 votes.

Akan Udofia and his party approached the Tribunal to request the disqualification of governor Eno on the grounds that he had submitted forged documents to INEC and had allegedly failed to receive the majority of legitimate votes in the governorship election. This was done because they were unhappy with the outcome that had been declared by INEC.

Eno, who was added as the second respondent in the electoral case, was also claimed by the petitioners to be ineligible to run for the election in question because he had previously been found guilty by an Abuja Magistrate Court.

However, the Tribunal panel found that the petitioners had not provided sufficient evidence to support their claims that the conduct of the governorship election had not complied with the electoral Act 2022 in its ruling on Thursday.

The Justice Adeleye’s panel also ruled that Pastor Umo Eno’s earlier conviction by the Magistrate court was invalidated by that court’s decision. Once a judgment is invalidated, it no longer exists, according to the Justice Adeleye’s panel.

The Tribunal further held that Pastor Eno, the second respondent, is qualified and that the Supreme Court has already ruled that the 1981 and 1983 WAEC certificates he submitted to INEC are authentic.

It subsequently struck the testimony of the petitioners’ subpoenaed witness, a renowned Interpol officer who arrived to present a report on the second respondent’s WAEC results.

The panel unanimously rejected the petitioners’ arguments regarding the validity of the same magistrate’s decision to overturn its own decision, emphasizing that it was not the tribunal’s responsibility to make that determination. The Abuja High Court is competent to handle that. “.

Additionally, the Tribunal dismissed Udofia’s grounds for a petition challenging the eligibility of Senator Bassey Akpan of the YPP, who received 136,262 votes to finish second in the election.

The APC and Udofia, the tribunal insisted.

As it is a party matter to decide who emerges as its candidate, the argument that Senator Albert was ineligible to be fielded by YPP because he had previously run for the same office in the PDP was unfounded.

Justice Kadi Usman Sikudu delivered the nearly four-hour-long judgment.

In response to the ruling, Essien Udom (SAN), the Akwa Ibom State attorney general and one of governor Eno’s attorneys, thanked the court for once again upholding the governor’s election.

The petition has been rejected. There was no way to have expected a more thorough judgment than what was made. Everything was addressed in detail. We are content, he insisted.

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