Akpabio loses at tribunal

Former Sen. Godswill Akpabio lost his case at the NASS Election Petition Tribunal in Akwa Ibom.

The tribunal has dismissed the petition by the APC brought against PDP’s Chris Ekpenyong in the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District election.

The majority vote of the three-man panel favoured Ekpeyong, whil one justice upheld Akpabio’s petition.

However, one of the judges on the three-man panel upheld the petition of  Akpabio, now the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, and announced the nullification of the victory of Ekpenyong.

Justice S. H Tahir said the petitioners, Akpabio and APC had no need to present polling unit agents to prove their victory since they were not challenging what transpired at the units.

Tahir further pointed out also that the power of cancelling illegal votes was not in the hands of the returning officer but in the hands of polling unit officers.

Tahir urged INEC to retrieve the certificate of return from Ekpenyong and surrender it to Akpabio as the elected Senator of the district.

But in a majority ruling of the tribunal read by the chairman of the panel, Justice W. O. Akanbi, the court ruled that the petitioners failed to bring any witness from the polling units and thus could not prove substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

“Every reasonable person should support the free, fair and credible election. The Returning Officer cannot be blamed for reporting what he saw to INEC,” said Akanbi.

The two justices dismissed the petition and upheld the declaration of Ekpenyong as the winner of the February 23, 2019 elections.