Ekere Vs Udom: Counsel Ran Short of Questions During Cross-Examination

It was another frustrating moment to the Respondent Counsels in the ongoing hearing session on Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo on Thursday July 18, 2019.

This occurred when on of the witnesses from the petitioner’s counsel entered witness box to give his testimony on the petition filed Obong Nsima Ekere seeking nullification of March 9th, 2019 governorship election which Governor Udom Emmanuel was declared winner.

Some believed strongly that it could be because of the overwhelming testimonies of the witnesses coupled with their unprecedented evidence in the previous sittings; these might have stated to diminish argumentative sagacity of the learned silks counsels on what to ask witnesses brought by petitioner’s counsel futher. Indeed, It was a big surprise that both first, second and third respondents couldn’t ask one of the witnesses in the box any question having looked thoroughly through his witness statement for over ten minutes.

As normal tribunal proceedings requires, after pre-examination of the witness by the petitioner led counsel, Prof. Earnest Ojukwu, the University Don and learned silks handed the witness over to respondent counsels for cross-examination.

But to the amazement of the tribunal, it was another comic moment when Prof. Earnest Ojukwu handed over one of the witnesses, Mr. Friday Akpansaul Okobo from Ikot Etefia, Mkpat Enin Local Government Area to the respondent counsels for corss-examination, in reply, all counsels said they have no question.

When asked by the Chairman of the three-man panel, Hon. Justice A. W Yakubu to cross-examine the witness by counsel to the 1st Respondent (Governor Udom Emmanuel) led by Chief Assam Assam, SAN he replied “my Lord, I have no question”, 2nd Respondent (PDP) led by Mr. Uko Udom, SAN he replied “my Lord, I have to question for him” and counsel to 3rd Respondent (INEC) led by Mr. Sylvia Ogkuemo also replied “my Lord, I have no question for him “.

In a very unpredictable comic moment, Justice Yakubu ordered Mr. Friday Okobo to leave the witness box since all respondents do not have question to ask him.

It could be recalled that since the commencement of the hearing session on the petition, it has been very tough and unexpected to the Respondent Counsels due to boldness, confidence, fact documentation of witnesses statements and superlative performance of witnesses of the petitioner. These have caused a lot of people to suggest have caused very difficult and uncomfortable moments to respondent counsels, especially on how Obong Nsima Ekere witnesses have been able to handly issues and questions raised by all respondent counsels.

Thursday’s inability of the respondent counsel to cross-examine the witness after his witness statement was thoroughly checked by all respondent counsels, absolutely made people at the gallery to go by diverse opinions that already established persuasive and well convinced facts brought before the honorable tribunal by the petitioner’s counsel and witnesses have made them not to have what to say anymore.

While in the box, another nagging evidence from a witness Mr. David Edet David from Idiaba Village, Nsit Attai Local Government Area hits Udom, PDP and INEC more. He testified before the tribunal that election did not hold in his polling unit becuase of the casualty recordef on the day of the election.

According to him, “no election materials was distributed in unit 3, 4, 7, 8 and all election materials meant for these units were hijacked by PDP thugs to unknown destination. I complained to INEC about the situation but all where of no veil. APC members were assaulted. About 9pm I went to collation centre to check if hijacked materials will be returned but I did see any. I was local government collation agent for my Party”.

Another witness Mr. Ubokobong Ime Udouwere from Uto Uko Village, Ukanafun Local Government Area also testified that APC supporter were assaulted by PDP thugs who invaded his area with covered mask on their faces. According to him, all election materials were taken away to unknown destination and all were thumbprinted and returned in collation centre.

Mr. Oto-Obong Nadarake from Ikot Obio Assang, Ini Local Government Area said he was beaten up by PDP thugs, according to him election materials diverted. He further disclosed that INEC officials connived with PDP members and restricted people from voting APC in his pulling unit 001.

Also, Mr. Elisha Ime Akpan from Ukpum Ikot Awana, Ikono Local Government Area, testified that election did not hold in his unit.

“My Lord, I went my polling unit that morning I discovered that all election materials were hijacked by PDP thugs with masks covered on their faces. Mr. Emmanuel Ukpong and Elder Samuel Akpan came with money and took away all the materials to unknown destination. When they returned these materials, they were all thumbprinted. These two were assisted by police, thugs and INEC officials. After the materials were returned, INEC Officials called me to come and inspect them, it was there I discovered that the materials were all thumbprinted”. He also said that it was a surprise to discovered that INEC in their office alloted 140 votes to PDP and 36 votes to APC.

Mr. Effiong Kindness Okon, APC agent in Idua Assang, Ikono Local Government Area testified that he was bullied by PDP thugs on the day of election. He further said that ballots were counted and not announced as required in INEC guidelines. Okon also testified that he did not sign the result.

On his part, Mr. Emmanuel Bassey, APC agent in Nung Uko, Ibesikpo Asutan told the tribunal that police help PDP in his unit to rigg March 9th, 2019 election. He also report that vote buying by PDP was very rampant and election materials were hijacked and he as an agent did not sign INEC form EC8A as requires in INEC guidelines.

The same ugly incident was reported by Mr. Usoh Edem Etukudo another APC agent in Usuk Inyang, Eket Local Government Area. Etukudo told tribunal that PDP were engaged on vote buying and distribution of fake Permanent Voters Card, added that there was no accreditation of voters. He also said that he reported the incident to the police but nothing happened.

The tribunal was adjourned to Friday July 19th, 2019 for continuation of more testimonies from petitioner’s counsel.

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