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2011 POLL: AKPABIO WINS AT APPEAL COURT

By NBF News
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The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar has, again, declared Akwa Ibom State governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio as the duly elected governor of the state. Besides, the court struck out the appeal by the governorship candidate of the Progressive Action Congress (PAC), Mr. Sunday Ibanga Obot, and his party against Akpabio and 15 others.

It should be recalled that the election petition tribunal had earlier, on July 14, 2011, dismissed the petition of Mr. Sunday Ibanga Obot as it lacked merit and was abandoned. But he (Obot) appealed against the judgment, contesting whether their letter was sufficient for a pre-election matter and whether the application of the respondent (Akpabio and others) was properly taken at the lower tribunal, that is the application based on which the petition itself was dismissed. These were the issues counsels to PAC led by Mr. Sylvanus Udofia and Counsels to Obot raised in their appeal.

Counsel to Akpabio, led by Mr. Duro Adeyemi (SAN) and five others raised objection, saying: 'The issues they (appellants) raised were new issues that were not canvassed at the tribunal. You see our adversary system of litigation is that if I am against you I must let you know what I have against you so that you can come out with all the arsenals within your own control to attack the action I have against you.

'When we were before the tribunal they did not challenge our motion; rather they joined issues with us and the tribunal considered it, thereby the tribunal dismissed the petition. But they came here saying even that our petition which their case was dismissed was incompetent and that we filed it out of time.'

After listening to both parties, the judges, in judgment read by Justice Massoud Abdulraham Oredola, ruled that the first and second grounds raised by the appellants were not competent because the law does not allow you to come and spring a surprise as the other parties should have been informed from the beginning.

The appeal court also ruled on third ground of appeal brought by Obot, which was on the letter that they wrote, and if it was sufficient in a pre-hearing or not but the court said it was not sufficient by law because it must be supported by an affidavit because 'there was no valid application by the appellant.'

Accordingly, the appeal court, in its 65 minutes judgment, found no merit in the appeal of Sunday Ibanga Obot and PAC and it accordingly upheld the ruling of the lower court (tribunal) and dismissed the appeal.

Commenting on the appeal court judgment, counsel to Akpabio said, 'of course, they have done very well. They have done well and they have actually applied the law and even the counsel to the appellant appreciated that right in the open court that the court had put in a lot of industry.'

Counsel to PAC in his comment said: 'we are grateful for the judgment.'