…dismisses APC candidate, Nsima Ekere’s petition
The Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State has dismissed the petition filed by the APC Governorship Candidate, Mr Nsima Ekere against the election of Governor Emmanuel Udom of the PDP.
The Justice A. M. Yakubu led tribunal declared that Mr Udom Emmanuel was duly elected Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
In a unanimous judgement, the tribunal ruled that the petitioners failed to prove that the conduct of the election was not in substantial compliant with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
“The burden of proof rested in the petitioner. They made a lot of allegations on killing of voters, thuggery, overvoting, non compliance with electoral acts, among others. The Petitioners’s allegations have serious criminal implications, which required proof beyond reasonable doubts.
The tribunal had earlier dismissed the evidence of an APC subpoenaed witness, William Ndarake, who claimed to be INEC Assistant Presiding Officer as there was nothing to show that the witness was so appointed by the electoral commission to carry out the said assignment.
Reading the over 590 paged judgement, the Tribunal first noted that the Petitoners failed to call witnesses in eight local government areas out of the twenty one local government areas where they claimed to have won.
Consequently, the court discountenanced every documentary evidence “dumped on the court” as regards the petitoners complaints from those Local Governments, which included Abak, Eastern Obolo, Ika, Eket, Mbo Mkpat Enin and others.
Citing the supreme Court case of Nweke v INEC, the court noted that documentary evidence however daring cannot be thrown on the Tribunal without oral evidence linking the documents to the issues in the case (petition).
The court in its ruling adopted the two issues formulated by the Petitioners for the Determination of the suit. The issues as adopted were: “Whether in the light of issues joined, the March 9 Elections were not held in non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2010.
“Whether the non-compliance as established in evidence are not substantial to affect the general outcome of the election and thus justify a cancellation of the entire elections.”
The court then proceeded to appraise the evidence of all parties at the Tribunal and in their considered ruling held, “That the Petitioners having abandoned their prayers where they claimed ab initio that the first Petitoner, Obong Nsima Ekere was the winner of the elections, all the evidence given in effort to substantiate the said ground is expunged from the considerations of the court in the judgement.
“That the Petitioners having abandoned their prayers hinged on the ground that there were corrupt practices in the conduct of the elections, all the evidence given in effort to substantiate the said ground was also expunged from the considerations of the court in the judgement.
“The petitioners failed to follow the laid down rules in frontloading and listing all documents they sought to rely on in proof of their Petition.
“Consequently the efforts and attempt by the petitoners to sandwich-in documents not pleaded nor listed by the petitoners is condemnable.” The court equally noted that the documents were not linked to any parts of the petition and that most of them were mere photocopies of public documents and not the required Certified True Copies of the documents.
“That the onus is on the Petitioner who alleges irregularities and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 to prove same. That the Petitioner failed woefully in the discharge of such burden.
“That the Petitoners could neither prove non-compliance nor substantial non-compliance to lead to a cancellation of the elections. For the Petitioner to have complained of non-compliance ans irregularities in elections in 799 polling units and only end up calling 43 was grossly inadequate to satisfy the burden of proving non-compliance and irregularities with the provisions of the Electoral Act which requires a unit by unit prove, by law.
“The Petitoners made several allegations of a criminal nature in their petition. The law is that in such cases, the allegation must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Unfortunately, the Petitoners in this case could not prove anything, the doubts in their allegations still dangling, we resolve those cases in favour of the respondents.”
Consequently, the three man panel, unanimously upheld the elections of Governor Udom Emmanuel at the March 9, 2019 elections and dismissed the petition of Nsima Ekere and the APC.