The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo reconvened today, 31st after its last adjourned date of 29th July 2019. Proceedings commenced with observation of the tradition of court; mention of case, acknowledgement of Parties and announcement of appearances by counsel. Assam Assam (SAN) Counsel to 1st Respondent set the ball rolling by announcing his readiness to commence defence for Deacon Udom Emmanuel. He told the Tribunal “My Lord, we have prepared a schedule of documents we intend to tender for ease of reference by both sides and the Registrar. We have served our friends on the other side. We will be relying on these documents which shall be tendered by our witness rather than from the bar”. He mentioned the documents as Forms EC8 E, EC8D, EC8A, EC8A and EC8C in that order. He proceeded to call his first witness, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem who was the State Collation Agent for PDP. Enoidem was caution, put on oath and profiled as RW1.
Petitioners counsel, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) countered the use of schedule by Respondent counsel and reminded the Tribunal to note that Petitioners earlier request to use schedule in the presentation of documents at the Tribunal was rebuffed.
Moving on, RW1 who affirmed his witness statement on oath was called upon on examination to affirm the CTC of Forms EC8 series which he pleaded and prayed to be admitted in evidence by the Tribunal. The request to admit documents was objected by Petitioners counsel who reserved arguments till final address. Nevertheless, Tribunal admitted and marked all the Form EC8 series tendered by 1st Respondent. It was a tedious and time-consuming process as the forms were painstakingly identified one after the other and as per the 31 local government areas. Counsel to 1st Respondent also tendered CTC of official receipt from INEC affirming the source and authenticity of the CTC documents though the receipt did not bear the name of Deacon Udom Emmanuel.
That done, RW1 was cross-examined by Uko Udom (SAN) counsel to 2nd Respondent. RW1 told the Tribunal that as State Collation Agent for PDP, he performed his duties as expected. He said, “My Lord, I was at INEC Office in Uyo when the results were brought in by local government Returning Officers. The results were collated and I was made to sign”. He admitted knowing PW43, the APC State Collation Agent whom he described as a friend and former member of the PDP. Enoidem told the Tribunal that election is a process and averred that the 2019 general election conducted by INEC in the state was the best since 1999. RW1 may have indirectly queried the victory recorded by his Party -PDP in the various elections since 1999 and consequentially put a question mark on the credibility of the PDP governments that he served successively in various capacities.
3rd Respondent – INEC appeared not to have any reasons to cross examine RW1 who was ofcourse defending an election that Udom Emmanual purportedly won under the supervision of INEC. Silva Oguemoh (SAN) was neither here nor there. He engaged RW1 with elementary questions that did not challenge Udom’s purported victory. Infact INEC’s bias and demonstration of double standard is clearly manifested in a situation where INEC objects to the admission of its own CTC documents tendered by Ekere’s counsel and raises no objections where the very same INEC documents are tendered by Udom’s counsel. In Umana & 1 other vs Udom & 3 others (2016) the Court of Appeal publicly reprimanded INEC for taking sides and making nonsense of the word “Independent” in its name.
During cross examination by Respondent counsel, RW1 overindulged himself exuding arrogance and pride. He announced himself variously by the title and positions he has held. Whether as a lawyer or professional witness, RW1 spoke uncontrollably from the witness box. He ranted like a canary offering answers to questions not asked in an attempt to demonstrate his knowledge of the law and familiarity with Akwa Ibom political space. At some point, he was cautioned by the Tribunal Chairman to restrain and limit himself to affirming documents tendered by him without making further oral statements as noted by Petitioners counsel. Enoidem’s self-indulgence was later to evaporate as Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) took the stage to cross examine him. RW1 paled in appearance, sweated profusely and consistently wiped his face with a kerchief; his pride and arrogance dusted with the flurry of questions put to him by Ojukwu. Against earlier submission by RW1 that election was free and fair; that there was accreditation, voting and collation of results in his unit in consonance with INEC guidelines, he failed to proof the fact of accreditation in his unit. When presented with exhibit PT148 – his unit voter register, RW1 was caught hands down with tongue in-cheek as the box beside his name was not ticked as a mark of accreditation required by INEC.
RW1 was further embarrassed when Ojukwu referred him to the last page of his witness statement that was without an NBA seal. The NBA seal certifies every lawyer as genuine and competent to practice law in Nigeria. It is a mandatory requirement that Lawyers affix their seal in every legal document prepared by them. Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem did not affix his NBA seal on the affidavit he deposed nor on the witness statement he signed on oath. Though RW1 blushed and laughed mischievously when confronted this short-coming, he sure does have something to think and worry about.
Tribunal adjourned to Thursday, 1st August 2019 for 1st Respondent to call more witnesses.
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