Ekere Vs Udom: Tribunal Makes U-turn, Agrees With Apc And Admits Exhibits

The Governorship Elections Petitions Tribunal resumed hearing today in the Petition filed by the APC and its Governorship Candidate Mr. Nsima Ekere challenging the outcome of the March 9, 2019 Governorship Election in Akwa Ibom State.

The Petitioners have so far called five witnesses and tendered one exhibit – a Police Medical Report. Earlier, while the Petitioner sought to tender the PVC of Effiong Bassey (PW1), the Respondents raised objection to the admissibility of same on the grounds that it was not frontloaded alongside the Petition. The Tribunal in its Ruling had agreed with the Respondents and upheld the objection.

The Petitioners again sought to tender the PVC of PW2 – Dr. Ita Udosen. This was resisted by the Respondents who raised same objection on admissibility. In a rare display of industry while replying on points of law and quoting copiously from the Electoral Act and judicial precedents, lead Counsel to the Petitioners JS Okutepa, SAN argued that what the Electoral Act envisaged was a listing of documents to be used at trial and not frontloading. He submitted that the Petitioners had no duty to discharge in frontloading exhibits already listed.

In a dramatic turn of events while ruling on the objection, the Tribunal Chairman agreed in totality with the submissions of the Petitioners and admitted the exhibit accordingly. He held that it was sound law but regretted that the earlier objection could not be reversed in the circumstance.

The PVCs of PW3, Pw4 and PW5 were subsequently admitted in evidence as exhibits despite a feeble opposition by Counsel to Governor Udom Emmanuel, Chief Assam Assam, SAN. The 2nd and 3rd respondents Counsel had no objection in view of the Tribunal’s earlier ruling on the matter. Tribunal maintained that its earlier ruling on the subject subsists since it was based on sound legal foundations as enunciated by JS Okutepa, SAN.

Hearing continues.