How Udom Trashed Umana At Supreme Court
We Are Not Relying On Card Reader Evidence – Umana’s Lawyer
One Witness Cannot Nullify Election in An Entire LG – Udom’s Lawyer
Appeal Court Used Card reader Figure (448,307) to Cancel the Election- PDP’s Lawyer
Police Claimed They Supervised Peaceful Election in A’Ibom – INEC Lawyer
It is no longer news that the Supreme Court has upheld the election of Emmanuel Udom as governor of Akwa Ibom state.
The apex court held that Udom’s appeal challenging the decision of the appeal court, which sacked him, was “meritorious.”
The court affirmed the declaration of Udom as the winner of the April 11 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Akwa Ibom state governorship election petition tribunal had ordered a rerun election in 18 local government areas of the state.
But Umana Okon Umana, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), challenged the decision of the tribunal on that grounds that the April 11 governorship election in the state should have been cancelled, owing to wanton irregularities.
In December 2015, the appeal court gave judgment in Umana’s favour, cancelling the entire election; and it directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hold a fresh one in the state within 90 days.
But Udom went to the apex court to challenge the decision of the lower court.
He asked the supreme court to set aside the judgments of the lower courts for being “perverse.”
When the counsel to all the parties adopted their briefs on Wednesday, it was five hours of fireworks before the seven man panel chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria Mahmud Mohammed.
The Counsel to Governor Emmanuel Damian Dodo(SAN) had argued that the appellate court in its judgement last December, relied solely on card reader for setting aside the April 11, 2015 governorship election, without considering manual accreditation process as prescribed and backed by the electoral act 2010 as amended.
Dodo maintained that it was also not known why the APC candidate failed prove in the open court, polling unit by polling unit through the voter’s register how prospective voters were disfranchised in the governorship election, yet the Appeal Court judges in their wisdom, saw differently.
It was also argued by Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) counsel to PDP that the appellate court also failed to invite the makers of the card reader to be cross examined on its workability, and the circumstance that led the electoral officials to rely on the manual register as backed by law in order not to disenfranchise voters who had earlier been duly recognised by INEC and empowered with voter’s cards.
“The card reader is a computer and pw48 tendered it as exhibit 317 yet he was not the maker and could not explain its workability. The attitude of this court is clear on this, that once the maker of a document is kept away from cross examination on his document, such a document should be kept away as it lacks value,” he said.
The PDP Counsel also said that the Court of Appeal referred to 448,307 as the number of accredited voters and used that to declare that there was over voting.
Oyetibo insisted that contrary to the decision of the Appeal Court, Mr Umana’s counsel did not establish over-voting in the manner known to the
Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) as well as the extant judgement of the Supreme court of Nigeria.
On his part, the Counsel to INEC Onyeachi Ikpeazu said the tribunal erred by using the report of the police to affirm the testimony of the petitioner’s few witnesses that indeed the election was marred by violence.
Ikpeazu said a closer look at the same report by the same police indicate that voting in Akwa Ibom state ended at about 6Pm and thereafter collation commenced after which the results were duly announced.
“My lord, the statement by the police in fact goes ahead to confirm that election was held and collation carried out, and the police even attached the result of the election as their achievement in Akwa Ibom state on April 11.”
“My lord, it is wrong for the lower court to pick just a part of the report that favours the petitioner.” Onyeachi Ikpeazu, counsel to INEC.
One of the arguments by Wole Olanipekun(SAN) for Umana were that an electoral officer who was a witness for Umana Umana had testified that she was beaten and battered and stripped naked before electoral materials were snatched from her by thugs, and that this was the same occurrence at all polling units in the state.
When asked by the Judge whether she was present in all the units to attest to violence in all of them, Wole answered in the negative.
Umana’s Lawyer was also faulted on his claim that his client had tendered video evidence of non-election in all parts of the state, as he was asked whether the video captured all the units in Akwa Ibom State, to which he answered to the negative.
But Olanipekun was not to accept defeat easily, and pressed on saying, “My Lord one of our witnesses, a former governor and another witness a governorship candidate who is even a Bishop, appeared as witnesses to testify that they were disenfranchised in their respective polling units.
But this was swiftly rebuffed by Damian Dodo(SAN) who quipped, “My Lord, the lower erred in law by ascribing supernatural, physical and legal powers on a single witness to nullify the elections in the entire state.”
Dodo asserted that, “Until the card readers are introduced into our country’s laws, it should not be allowed to be used to cause confusion in our nascent democracy.”
It was then that Umana’s lawyers commenced a round of twisting logic and putting it to the Judges that their case was not based on card reader information but on the totality of the process of the election.
All that appeared too little too late as their lordships had gotten enough and later the court affirmed the declaration of Udom as the winner of the April 11 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).