The Akwa Ibom State Governorship ElectionPetitions Tribunal on Thursday concluded hearing in the petition brought before it by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Umana Okon Umana against the election of Governor Udom Emmanuel of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Umana had approached the tribunal challenging conduct of the election and declaration of Udom Emmanuel as winner.
When the case was called on Thursday, lawyer to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Alex Ejesieme, informed the tribunal that the commission will not present more witnesses other than the four they had called in their defence. He formally announced that the third and forth respondents, INEC and the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State have closed their cases.
INEC was earlier expected to end its defence on Friday, September 18, 2015. The commission had listed a total of about 100 witnesses, but closed her defence after calling just four witnesses. On Thursday, Mr. Ejesieme told the tribunal that the person he intended to call as their fifth witness “suddenly developed health problems”.
Lawyers to the PDP and Governor Udom Emmanuel, Messrs Tayo Oyetibo, and Mr. Paul Usoro, informed the tribunal that they have pending applications before it. But the tribunal ruled that all pending applications should be taken along with the final addresses.
After deliberations, the Justice Sadiq Umar-led panel directed that the respondents should file and serve their final written addresses on the petitioners within seven days beginning from Monday, September 21, 2015,while the petitioners should file and serve their final written addresses on the respondents within four days. Also, the respondents are to file their reply on point of law to the petitioners addresses, if any, within three days of being served by the petitioners.
Meanwhile, the tribunal ordered the third respondent, the PDP, to evacuate the seven bags of Incident Forms allegedly used during the election from its registry, since they were not tendered and admitted in evidence.
The chairman and other members of the tribunal stated further that since the forms are not exhibits, they are of no relevance and should be taken away.
The PDP averred in their defence that the Card Reader was not the only means of accreditation. Some of the witnesses who testified before the tribunal had equally said that Incident Forms were used.
However, the PDP abandoned the seven bags of Incident Forms after causing a subpoena to be issued on INEC to bring same before the tribunal.
The case has been adjourned to October 8, 2015 for adoption of final written addresses by both respondents and petitioners.