A'IBOM GUBER TUSSLE: TRIBUNAL STRIKES OUT AKPANUDOEDEHE'S PETITTION
The election petition filed against the victory of Governor Godswill Akpabio before the election tribunal by his Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) opponent, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, suffered a fatal blow yesterday as the tribunal struck it out 'for being incompetent.'
The petition jointly filed by Akpanudoedehe, Dr. Ime Umanah who was his running mate and their party, ACN, to challenge the outcome of the governorship election held in the state on April 26, in which Akpabio was returned as elected governor.
Joined as respondents in the case were Akpabio, his running mate, now Deputy Governor, Mr. Nsima Ekere; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The petitioners were represented by Prof. Yemi Osibajo (SAN) and four others while Akpabio and Ekere were represented by Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) and five others. PDP was represented by A. Oyesanya and two others while INEC was represented by Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu and two others.
In their submissions, both in writing and in oral presentation, the lead counsel to the respondents, particularly, Ojo and Ikpeazu, had argued in their consolidated applications before the tribunal that Akpanudoedehe's petition failed to comply with rules guiding the filing of petitions as enshrined in the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
Justice Adam Onum, in a 12-page judgment, upheld the reliefs sought by the respondents that the petition be struck out.
'In conclusion, after considering the motions of the 4th respondent and that of the 1st and 2nd respondents, all of which we have consolidated and taken together, as well as submission of counsel thereon, we make the following orders:
•The motion on behalf of the 4th respondent, INEC, dated 7th day of July, 2011 and filed on the same day is hereby struck out for being incompetent before this tribunal.
•The motion on behalf of the 1st and 2nd respondents (Akpabio and Ekere) dated 11th day of July 2011 and filed on the same day is hereby allowed.
The tribunal also re-affirmed the election of 1st respondent, Godswill Akpabio, as the governor of Akwa Ibom State. Other members of the tribunal were Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo and justice Ajoke S. Adepoju.
However, the petitioners, ACN and Akpanudoedehe have disagreed with the judgment and promised to appeal against its ruling.