…Reaffirms Umo Eno Validly Elected Governor of Akwa Ibom State
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo Wednesday afternoon faulted and discarded a petition, brought by the Governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, Arc. Ezekiel Nyaetok, challenging the election of Pastor Umo Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Among other grounds, Nyaetok sought the disqualification of Pastor Umo Eno alleging that he was convicted by a Magistrate Court in Abuja, and that having been convicted, all votes accrued to him during the March 18 elections ought to be nullified.
He also challenged other candidates who scored more votes than him, alleging that they were handicapped by litigations and legal bars which hampered their eligibility to participate in the elections.
But delivering judgement on the matter, the Justice Adekunle Adeleye chaired panel unanimously ruled that the same magistrate court presided by Emeka Iyama, delivered a judgment, nullifying its earlier conviction of Pastor Umo Eno and that once a judgement is nullified, it ceases to exist.
The tribunal also held that Nyaetok’s petition lacked merit as the petitioner was not able to establish one polling unit in which there was non compliance with the electoral law in the March 18 Governorship elections.
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo earlier had threw out suit number EPW/AKS/GOV/03/23, brought by Governorship candidate of the NNPP, Senator John James Akpan Udoedehe, challenging the election of Pastor Umo Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party.
After about One Hour and thirty minutes of detailed and considered judgement, the Governorship election Panel, in a unanimous decision concluded that the petition by
Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe and his party against Gov Umo Bassey Eno, the PDP and INEC deserves no less a verdict than dismissal for lacking in merit.
The governorship election petition by the former Senator followed the defective trajectory of two previous cases dismissed by the tribunal two weeks ago, by virtue of the attempt to resurrect the subject matter of certificate forgery leveled against Governor Eno, which was previously buried by the Supreme Court.
Counsel to the PDP had told the tribunal that the petition was “most unambitious”, as the Petitioners neglected and or refused to declare what they really wanted.
Sen. John Akpanudoedehe of the NNPP had in his arguments claimed that Gov. Umo Eno was a convict by the Wuse Magistrate Court, Abuja, thereby robbing him of the qualification to have contested the March 18, 2023 governorship election.
He prayed the Tribunal to order that the election be cancelled, and a fresh one conducted within 90 days.
He also alleged that the Governor was born in Enugu, even though he declined to show proof of this claim as he neither front loaded nor relied upon any document to back it.
Surprisingly, of the over 5000 voting units in the state, the NNPP candidate called only 2 witnesses with himself as one of the two.
Under cross examination, the NNPP gubernatorial candidate admitted, when shown the enrolled order of the Wuse Magistrate Court repudiating its judgement orders, that he lacked knowledge of the existence of the order before his petition.
Counsel to the PDP and Pastor Umo Eno, had noted in their submission that the NNPP petition is most unambitious, as the petitioner has not only failed to prove the criminal allegation of forgery, but also failed to state what he wants.
The tribunal, presided over by Justice Adekunle Adeleye, ruled that lacking in merit, the petition had to be confined to the trashcan.
Reacting to the judgement, Counsel to the PDP, Barr Emmanuel Enoidem said the judgement was in strong agreement with the point of law.
Barr Enoidem said the petitioners failed to prove that Pastor Umo Eno did not meet the constitutional entry requirements for office of the Governor, adding that most of their claims were pre-election matters which they could not also substantiate.