The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom has lost two federal constituency seats as the Election Petition Tribunal 11 sitting in Uyo on Wednesday delivered judgment in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Seats lost to the PDP were that of Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika and Eket federal constituencies for which the tribunal chairman, Justice Jennifer Ijohor declared Aniekan Umanah and Pat Ifon respectively as winners.
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APC candidate for Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika federal constituency, Emmanuel Ekon had challenged the victory of Umanah of the PDP while Kufre Akpabio of the APC had also challenged the declaration of Pat Ifon of the PDP for Eket federal constituency.
In their separate motions, the petitioners prayed the court to cancel the elections on the grounds of not being in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, nullify the certificate issued to the 1st Respondents as the winner of the February 23 elections or in the alternative.
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The court first gave its ruling on a motion filed by the petitioners seeking to foreclose the Respondents from defending the case on grounds that the Respondents made a typographical slip on the process.
The court held that since the court had already determined a motion on that subject by dismissing the petitioners’ application in July 9, 2019, the court could not as now sought by the Petitioner sit on appeal over its decision.
However, the court dismissed the motion of the petitioner and held that the Respondents had a right to defend the case and that they had done so within the limits of the law.
On the merit of the case, the court, after a review of the evidence given by the witnesses and all documents before the court held that the Petitioners did not prove non-compliance with the Electoral Act and further that the non-compliance, assuming the tribunal were to even consider that such was established in any little way, was not sufficient non-compliance such as could substantially affect the results of the elections.
The court held that the evidence of all the witnesses of the Petitioners were insufficient to prove substantial non-compliance which is the only grounds that could lead the court to decide in favour of the Petitioner.
The court held that: “Proving non-compliance would require a unit by unit prove by the petitioner… consequently, the Petitioner’s attempt to use 11 polling unit agents to establish non-compliance in an election that covered over 200 polling units could achieve anything but never a proof for substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Act”.
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