- The Akwa Ibom state election petition tribunal has commenced hearing of petitions after pre-hearing sessions
- All eyes are on the Akwa Ibom north west senatorial district election where Senator Godswill Akpabio is challenging the results
- Senator Akpabio was present at the tribunal on Tuesday, June 11
One of the witnesses of Senator Godswill Akpabio simply identified as Mr. Usen, on Tuesday, June 11, admitted that there was no accreditation in polling units in the ward where he was a collation agent.
Akpabio, who was in court during the session, was earlier briefed through the pre-hearing report of the Akwa Ibom state petition tribunal, which marked the end of the pre-hearing session and commencement of trial.
Usen who identified himself as an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain and 2019 elections ward collating officer in Essien Udim local government area, affirmed that the box designed for accreditation of voters was not ticked on result sheets shown to him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He affirmed that there was no accreditation in seven polling units, leading to cancellation of elections in those units.
The witness noted that voters’ registers and card readers are tools for accreditation, and explained that where the card reader fails, accreditation are usually done manually.
Usen who was testifying that INEC was not justified in cancelling the results from the units, also told the tribunal that card readers malfunctioned in various polling units in his area.
Barr. Emukporueo, representing INEC, and two other officials of the Commission joined as respondents, asked if the witness is aware that results of seven units were cancelled in his ward, and he replied negatively.
Barr. Emukporoeu craved the indulgence of the tribunal to put it to the witness, that the results which led to the cancellation of seven polling units in his ward are completely inconsistent and not a product of the voters’ registers which were marked as exhibits R2, R4, R5, R7, R8, R11.
The lawyer urged the tribunal to overrule the objection of his colleague as the questions were reactions to the words of the witness himself, who said that card readers malfunctioned and accreditation was done manually, thus opening himself to questions concerning the voters’ registers.
He referred the tribunal to section 222 of the evidence act, and held that the witness got questions within the confines of the evidence act, to test his credibility and would be unfair to INEC to be stopped from asking their questions.
He submitted that it is a life and critical issue to ask if there was accreditation and election, adding that there was no election because election is a process, which starts with accreditation.
He also held that materials were hijacked, while ad-hoc staffs were kidnapped and abducted.
The tribunal, after listening to arguments of all the parties, ruled that the witness should answer the questions directed to him, as they are all in line with Section 295(2) of the evidence act.
The tribunal accordingly adjourned to Friday, June 14.
Meanwhile, a socio-political group, Akwa Ibom Liberation Movement, AILM, has described the confession of Akpabio’s witness as testimony to their earlier stand that APC has nothing to do at the tribunal.
Reacting to the issue, the leader of the AILM, Prince Emmanuel Sam noted that APC is only at the tribunal to make noise as the party was totally defeated in the last general elections in the state.
In another development, a group, Ibom Integrity and Servant Leadership Culture Initiative has reiterated its call that President Muhammadu Buhari should not appoint Akpabio as a minister in his cabinet.
The group in a statement by its executive vice president, Dr. Asuquo Edidem Etim said it stands by its earlier petition to the president, stressing that its complaint echoes the inner thoughts of many members of the APC in Akwa Ibom and the entire south-south states.
The group had earlier petitioned the president on the need not to appoint Akpabio into the federal executive council, describing the former governor as a politician with no recognizable political structure.
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