A former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godwill Akpabio, could not open his defence at the Akwa Ibom State National and State Assemblies Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja on Wednesday as he was said to have been flown abroad for medical attention.
Akpabio’s vehicle was involved in a road crash on Monday in Abuja and was subsequently hospitalised at the National Hospital in the Federal Capital Territory.
Though hearing in the petition of the All Progressives Congress Senatorial candidate in the Akwa Ibom North-West district in the March 28 election, Chief Inibehe Okori, against Akpabio held, it started without the testimony of the former governor, who is the first respondent in the petition.
Okori had filed a petition before the tribunal, challenging the conduct of the senatorial election and the declaration of Akpabio, who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, as the winner of the poll. The PDP is the second respondent in the case.
The tribunal adjourned the opening of Akpabio’s testimony to Saturday, September 12, 2015.
Meanwhile, hearing in the respondents’ defence began with the National Secretary of the PDP, Prof. Wale Oladipo, clearing the air on the error on the nomination form of Akpabio.
The PDP had indicated that the ex-governor, who is now the Senate Minority Leader, was nominated for the Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District election instead of the Akwa Ibom North-West.
Oladipo explained that despite the ‘clerical error’ on Akpabio’s INEC Form CF 002C, INEC knew that the former governor was nominated and sponsored by the PDP for the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District seat, saying “INEC was present at the PDP primary that was won by the first respondent.”
The tribunal, led by Justice Goddy Anunihu, also adjourned till September 12 the ruling on the admissibility of forensic report on the election materials by Okori.