The governorship candidate of Accord Party in the April 11 election in Akwa Ibom State, Bishop Samuel Akpan, on Tuesday, 14 July, testified at the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja for Umana Okon Umana, the APC candidate.  


He declared to the three-man panel led by Hon Justice A. S. Umar that the governorship election in Akwa Ibom State was marred by widespread irregularities, fraud and violence and in most polling units; there was indeed no election at all. Appearing confident, well spoken and convincing, Bishop Akpan gave a vivid account of how election materials were either not supplied at polling units or were snatched by PDP thugs at polling units. ‘The results that were eventually announced by INEC as election results were cooked by INEC in people’s private homes’, declared Bishop Akpan.

There was however a mild drama in the court when Bishop Akpan was temporarily suspended from giving his testimony because his names in the Witness Statement were stated in initials. The respondents’ lawyers, Paul Usoro (SAN), representing Udom Emmanuel and Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) vehemently opposed the use of initials or acronyms, claiming that acronyms do not rightfully represent real persons in the eye of the law. In his reply, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), leading Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) and Chief Victor Iyanam, drew the attention of the Tribunal to the Practice Directions for the Election Tribunals and various sections of the Electoral Law 2010. He submitted that the use of acronyms and initials was borne out of the wisdom of the law makers to hide the identity of witnesses prior to their testimony for their own safety. He cited several legal authorities in support of his submissions drawing the attention of the Tribunal to incidents of violence, kidnappings, intimidation of witnesses, thereby making it inevitable for the safety of witnesses to be paramount. The Tribunal in its ruling dismissed the objection. Trial then resumed in the afternoon and Bishop Akpan concluded his testimony.

A sore point in the electoral process was however brought to the notice of the Tribunal when Chief Olnipekun (SAN) informed the court that INEC had still not allowed the petitioner to carry out forensic exercise. It was reported that Uche Okorie, Head of INEC Legal Services in Uyo, had disappeared with the key to the store where the materials were kept. The Court then ordered the INEC Cousel, Mr Tochukwu, to get to the INEC facility tomorrow and report proceedings to the court at the resumed sitting on Wed, 15th July.

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