The former Minority Leader in the Senate who lost the senatorial election in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, after his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Godswill Akpabio, had continued defence of his petition, challenging the victory of Senator Chris Ekpenyong, at the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal.
National Daily learned that Akpabio has presented 14 witnesses and was to take his turn at the witness box to prove his case.
National Daily, however, gathered that the senator’s cousin, Ibanga Akpabio, appeared before the judges at the tribunal as polling agent of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District with incoherent statements.
Under cross examination by Counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Solomon Umoh SAN, Ibanga Akpabio was said to be asked as Senatorial election Agent, to mention the Local Government Areas that his party won in his senatorial district, and he responded: “Ikot Ekpene and some others that I do not know.”
Then, the Counsel fired: “I put it to you that you lost in all Local Government Areas.”
National Daily also learned that Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Robert Emukpoeruo, stated before the tribunal that APC members were violent against INEC adhoc staff, kidnapped and forced them to write results in favour of APC.
Ibanga Akpabio, identified as a lawyer, had denied the accusation of violence by the INEC but was referred to paragraph 11 of his witness statement, where he indicated that “…an INEC staff escaped with a phone call and never came back”.
“To confirm in paragraph 11 of your witness statement that INEC officials were abducted, you said that at final point of collation, he received a phone call and escaped. I put it to you that one can only escape from abduction,” Emukpoeruo declared.
The INEC counsel further asked: “On the result sheet, column for accreditation has to be collated from card readers and voters’ registers. Do you agree;” while Akpabio was said to have responded in affirmative ‘yes’.
“Is there any other source where this information can be obtained” the Counsel had asked; while Akpabio responded, ‘No’.
Emukpoeruo proceeded: “where polling unit results contained in a result is not obtainable from number of accredited voters on smart card readers and voters’ registers, the result is invalid. Do you agree,” and Akpabio responded: “Yes”.
‘I put it to you that seven out of 11 wards of Essien Udim LGA, there is no record of accreditation’. Emukpoeruo declared.
National Daily also learned that Counsel to Senator Godswill Akpabio, Sunday Ameh, had made arguments to prove the petition of his client, but INEC countered his argument with the presentation of polling unit results, where the witness consented that the results of Ukana West 1, 2 and IKpe Annang were nonexistent.
“From INEC forms P420-P530, I put it to you that there are no polling unit results for Ukana West 1, Ukana west 2 and Ikpe Annang” Emukpoeruo had stated.
Akpabio was, however, acknowledged: “They are not here. We asked our lawyer to apply to INEC but it is like we have not gotten them.”
Akpabio’s counsel then requested time to look at the documents.
“My Lord, the witness should be given time to look at the documents,’ Ameh stated. The Tribunal Chairman granted the request.
“If the witness agrees that they are not there, there is no point wasting our time”, the Tribunal Chairman stated.
Moreover, Akpabio, after examining the documents, was said to have admitted that there were no results for Ukana West 1, Ukana West 2 and Ikpe Annang.
Then, Emukpoeruo, said to have brought the voters registers P489-508 and results sheets P544 for Okon Ward, argued thus with Ibanga Akpabio, “that all results you have on P544 are enteries that do not reflect P489-P508.”
“It is faint and I cannot see” Ibanga Akpabio was said to have complained; but Emukpoeruo insisted: “I put it to you that if you add all those results, your party is still the loser.”