Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, Monday, hurriedly closed his defence before the tribunal.
In the four days of his defence at the tribunal, Emmanuel called 19 witnesses. The governor had earlier indicated interest to call more witnesses.
The All Progressives candidate for the governorship election the the state, Umana Umana, had approached the tribunal challenging conduct of the election and declaration of Udom Emmanuel as winner of the poll.
Testifying for the 1st respondent, Udom Emmanuel, on Monday, Uduak Ekpeowo told the panel that he was the Local Government Collation Agent for Nsit Atai. He stated that though he voted in his unit, 001, election materials for the other seven units were carted away by an ex military general, Edet Akpan. The DSS arrested him and the matter is presently in court, he told the tribunal.
Ekpeowo when confronted with a document by counsel to the petitioner, Solomon Umoh (SAN) which was admitted by the tribunal and marked exhibit 360 and given to read the last line of the document, he hesitated and later read “The case is hereby struck out for want of diligent prosecution”. At this point, he pleaded with the tribunal that he made the submission not knowing that the matter was dismissed by the Magistrate court in Uyo .
The witness who was confronted by counsel to the petitioner’s counsel that he lied in his witness statement when he claimed he was the Local Government Collation Agent when one Lawrence Udosen had earlier told the tribunal he (Udosen), was the Local Government Collation Agent, he became speechless for seconds.
When he mustered to talk, he insisted that he, and not Udosen was the validly appointed party agent for the Local Government. A case of impersonation was established against him. He said election was peaceful in the area and that INEC did not connive with anybody all through the process. He confessed that in his area, they had two types of accreditation, electronic and manual but when shown the voter register of his unit to show where he was ticked as having being accreditation, there was none.
The petitioners counsel gave him another document showing the total number of accredited voters in Nsit Atai which stood at 9686. He was given the result sheet of the LGA he allegedly signed as the PDP agent and asked to read out the total votes cast for his party. 23,977 is written on it, he declared. When asked to explain the discrepancy between 9386 accredited voters and 23,977 votes cast, he kept mute.
Another witness,Inemesit Sunday, said he was accredited and voted in his polling unit even though the Card Reader report showed that accreditation took place in only polling unit 005 out of the nine polling units in the Ward. When the voter register was shown him, there was no proof he was accredited or voted in the presidential or Governorship election. He insisted he voted and that there was declaration of result though without collation at the Ward level. He confessed he signed his Ward result but when confronted with a copy of the result sheet he allegedly signed and his witness statement, both documents bore different signatures. He then told the tribunal that he has many signatures.
Also testifying, Obong Emmanuel Titus from Etinan said his party, PDP ,had agents in all the eleven wards in the Local Government and that collation of results took place in the polling units, wards and Local Government. The petitioners counsel gave him result sheets of Ward 1,5,8 of Etinan LGA marked as Exibit DDD 1,5 and 8. One person, Prince Ibanga Udofia signed the results of the disputed three wards, he confirmed.
Also testifying, Emmanuel from Eket who claimed to be the Local Government Collation Agent’ admitted signing the results of Eket Urban wards 1 and 3 because the wife of the Ward agent took ill and after being notified on phone, he left the Local Government collation center to sign the said Ward result. He was given the Local government results marked exibit DDDD3 to examine after which he admitted that going by the documents only 26,472 voters were accredited but the final result declared stood at 52,616. He said manual accreditation took place where the Card reader failed but that he did not personally see any Incidence Form being filled as required by law.
Nicolas Andy, a former chairman of Ibiono LGA, who also testified, said he was both a Local government and Ward agent. The names of all PDP Ward agents in the wards were read to him and hIs name was not among. He admitted that no result came to the Local government collation centre from the Ward, adding that no PDP Ward agent signed exibit SS 1,2 and 10 being the Ward results of Ward 1,2 and 10.
Governor Emmanuel’s last witness, Felix Udoh, a surveyor said election took place in all the units in Obot Akara LGA except in four units of 005,006,007 and 008 in Nto Edino Ward. When shown the election results which showed that only PDP agents signed election results in nine wards of the Local government, he admitted that though it was true, there was nothing wrong with that.
The first petitioners counsel told the tribunal that they have closed their defence with the testimony of the 19th witness while counsel to the 2nd respondent informed the court of his readiness to open his defence on Tuesday, September 8, 2015.