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A' COURT UPHOLDS AKPABIO'S VICTORY

By NBF News
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For the second time running, the incumbent Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio has been declared winner of the last governorship election.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar, the Cross River State capital yesterday dismissed the appeal filed by the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) governorship candidate and his running mate, Senator John Akpanudoedehe and Chief Ime Umanah, for failure to comply with relevant section of the Electoral Act 2010.

The court also agreed with the decision of the lower tribunal that the appellants' application was defective as it failed to meet provisions of Paragraph 18(4) of the First Schedule of the 2010 Election Act (as amended).

In a unanimous decision by the three justices of the Appeal Court, read by Justice M. A. Oredola, the court held that the appellant failed to comply with Paragraph 47(1) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act in moving their motion for the application of pre-hearing session.

Other justices at the tribunal were Justices Jafaru Makailu and Akeju.

The judge ruled that the appellant could not pick or chose which provisions of the law to follow and which not to, no matter how absurd or otherwise the law could be. On the argument on whether the judgment of the trial court was not duly signed by all the justices as argued by ACN counsel on September 7, Justice Oredola said the judgment was signed by majority of the judges.

His words: 'When the manuscript of the judgment was shown before the court, it showed that it was duly signed by majority of the judges. The trial tribunal cannot be faulted for invoking the provisions of the Electoral Act on the appellants.' He maintained that pre-hearing session was conducted on July 5, 2011 as argued by the counsel in the application, stating that the appellant was right in one of his grounds of appeal that the tribunal could not grant reliefs not sought by the party.

The Akwa Ibom tribunal, headed by Justice Adam Onum, had earlier dismissed the petitioners' application on technical grounds and affirmed Governor Godswill Akpabio as the duly elected governor in the April 26 election. ACN and others had also challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission's declaration of Governor Godswill Akpabio and his Deputy, Nsima Ekere, of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the April 26 governorship election in the state.

In his reaction after the court's proceedings, Dapo Akinosun, who represented ACN lead counsel, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said the court had misapplied the law in dismissing the appellants' application, insisting that the party would seek redress at the Supreme Court. His words: 'The important thing is that we would go to Supreme Court.

This court has misapplied the law and we would seek to obtain the judgment and take necessary steps. Of course, justice delayed is not justice denied. We still believe strongly in the rule of law and the judiciary. We are sure that at the end of the day the truth would come out and justice will be done.'The court said they had seen the manuscript which was never shown to us. From all available records, the judgment of the lower tribunal was not properly signed.

Counsel to Governor Godswill Akpabio and his Deputy, Nsima Ekere, Duro Adeyele (SAN) said the judgment of the appeal represents the position of the law. His words: 'I am quite satisfied with the judgment because it represents the position of the law. The law is very clear on this issue. The determination of the appeal was based on law, the constitution and the Electoral ACT.'