…As Tribunal Adjourns To August 20
Seven more witnesses at the resumed hearing of the Akwa Ibom Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, over the weekend, confirmed that under a credible process, Governor Udom Emmanuel won overwhelmingly, the March 9, 2019 Governorship election conducted in the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The witnesses who testified, Friday before the tribunal include, the collation agent of the PDP in Ibesikpo Asutan local government, Mr. Ubong Jonah, Unit agent of unit 7, Ward 7 in Ukanafun, Ime Umana, Unit Agent for unit 001, Odoro Ikot in Essien Udim, Iboro Joseph Ikanna, who was also the ward collation agent for Odoro Ikot Ward 1.
All the witnesses told the court that agents of the APC and other parties witnessed the entire processes from sorting of materials to voting and final collation of results and that they signed the result sheets confirming the victory of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Describing the election process in Ibesikpo-Asutan as free, fair and credible, Mr. Jonah who was the first witness to testify for the day, told the court that the electoral exercise in the area was conducted in compliance with the electoral guidelines.
He admitted that votes that were counted at the local government collation centre in which the first respondent, Governor Udom Emmanuel was declared winner were valid votes.
The Collation Agent also told the court that there was no record of violence in Ibesikpo Asutan on the day of the election.
In his oral evidence, Mr. Ime Umanah who hails from Ikot Obio Ekpe in Ukanafun said the election was peaceful in the units and his ward.
He described as false, an earlier testimony of widespread violence, deposed by an APC witness Abasiono Udomfu, even as he told the tribunal that the said Udomfu was an impostor who never played the role of a party agent on the day of election.
“The APC agent in my unit was Mfonma Umana, who happens to be my nephew, he wore the APC tag, and also signed the result sheet of that elections.”
On the allegation of violence by security agents, he maintained that, “my lord,the only security agent in my polling unit were members of the civil defence(sic) in the blue uniform and red collar, and they carried no guns.”
PDP Collation Agent in Odoro Ikot Ward 1, Essien Udim Local Government Area, Iboro Joseph Ikanna, told the Tribunal that he refused to sign the result announced in the ward, because the exercise was marred with fraud in his polling unit at Primary School, Ikot Inemme.
He said APC thugs had invaded polling units in the ward and carted away election materials, maintaining that he refused to sign the result, because APC was declared winner in an election that was characterised by thuggery and massive electoral fraud.
“I did not sign the result because I was not satisfied with the outcome of the election in the unit.
“APC thugs invaded the unit and carted away materials. That’s why l protested and refused to sign the result”.
Another witness, Mr. M.C. Akpan, an agent at polling Unit 003 in Nsit Atai who intimated the tribunal of a typographical error in his witness statement was later ruled out by the tribunal which relied on the provisions of the evidence act, that no alteration can be effected in a statement that had been deposed under oath.
Under cross examination, Mr. Akpan, a unit agent at polling unit 003 in Nsit Atai also admitted that the Governorship election was conducted peacefully in his unit, and that the PDP candidate, and Mr. Udom Emmanuel was declared winner of the election at the unit.
Mr M. C Akpan who said he registered in Ikot Udotang, Ward 3, Unit 003, also faulted one David Edet David who had earlier told the tribunal that he was the APC Ward 3 agent in Nsit Atai.
He is from my ward but unit 001, I saw him at the ward center but I am not aware that he was representing the APC as collation agent.
Mr Akpan also faulted the claims by the said Edet David that PDP masterminded snatching and hijacking of election materials, insisting that there was election and collation.
I presented myself, PVC which was identified on the register, and captured by card reader. Thereafter you are given ballot to vote. The process was applicable to all other voters.
Iboro Joseph Ikanna who was the PDP agent for Odoro Ikot Ward in Essien Udim told the tribunal that he refused to sign the result sheet for his Ward because of the anomalies in his own Unit.
Mr Ikanna confessed that APC won, and that his own Unit 003 was cancelled after the APC mobilized thugs to cart away election materials.
He admitted that apart from the unit where elections were cancelled, the election in his ward was free and fair?
During Cross Examination by Prof. Ernest Ojukwu, Counsel to the Petitioners, Ikanna was asked, “in your ward, only one unit was cancelled but you refused to sign result?”
His response was, “what happened in Unit 003 was as a result APC thugs who hijacked the election materials, and because of that I could not sign the result.”
Others who testified were the Ward collation agent for Unit 7 in Ikono ward 5, Ubong Augustine Inyang, of Unit 001, Nsit Atai LGA, and Uduak Akpan Ama of Edemeya Ward 3 in Ikot Abasi local government area.
For each of the witnesses, the petitioners’ counsel Ernest Ojukwu kept referring them to the voter’s register to ask them about how accreditation in their units, getting almost similar responses that the witnesses have no hand in the making of the documents.
“Look at the document, is that yourself. Can you see that there is no ticking on your name,” Ojukwu asked again?”
“It was not my duty to do the ticking,” he replied.
At this point, Essien Andrew, SAN Designate who is Counsel to Governor Udom Emmanuel raises an objection: “My lord, this tribunal has ruled many times that witnesses should not be cross examined on a document not tendered by them, or for which they are not the makers.”
In his response, Justice A. M. Yakubu(SAN) said, “We have taken notice of that. We have said that many times and if the Prof doesn’t want to follow, we cannot stop him again, we just want to have a smooth session.
“Allow him to do what he chooses, but we know what will go into our record. You can bring this up in your final address” the tribunal panel chairman concluded.
Addressing newsmen at the end of the session, Counsel to the first respondent, Chief Assam Assam (SAN) said he was satisfied with the process, saying 13 witnesses have so far testified since in his client opened his defense at the tribunal. Also speaking, counsel to the petitioner, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) admitted that he impressed with the conduct of the exercise so far.
13 Witnesses have so far testified for the Governor, being the first respondent in the tribunal which has adjourned sitting to resume on Tuesday, August 20, 2019.