…PETITIONER’S COUNSEL APOLOGIZES AMIDST UPROAR
The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Thursday, rebuked Chief Godswill Akpabio’s media aide, Anietie Ekong, for media blackmail on some Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials.
Counsel to INEC, Ifeoluwa Esq on being called to examine an INEC Staff who was subpoenaed by the Tribunal, vented his anger over Anietie Ekong’s action geared towards intimidating INEC witnesses and blackmailing them to withdraw.
Senator Akpabio watched with awe, as Ifeoluwa presented a printed screenshot of Ekong’s Facebook and other social media posts before the tribunal.
He lamented that INEC Staff are not just being threatened but also facing serious privacy invasion as their pictures are being taken while in the dock by Ekong and posted on social media.
According to Ifeoluwa, Ekong had earlier testified for Akpabio and did not face such treatment, expressing fear that INEC Staff are now threatening not to appear in court for security reasons.
When asked by the Tribunal on the evidence against him, Anietie who was in the court, appeared jittery and stuttered in an attempt to deny, posting the pictures on Facebook and Whatsapp.
“You stand up, did you do this”?
“No my lord, em em it em is not em…”, Ekong stammered.
Counsel to the Petitioner, Sunday Ameh rose with heightened emotion to defend Ekong, saying “My lord when Akpabio’s witness alleged threat to life it was swept under the carpet.”
He added that technology would have been used to manipulate the document.
The Tribunal Chairman registered disappointment in Ameh’s outburst which suggested that the tribunal was biased.
The judge wondered how an action could have been taken when Ameh brought no proof of alleged threat to the life of his witness.
He also expressed displeasure that Ameh raised his voice at the Tribunal, even in the face of a document by the Tribunal to proof the misconduct of his client.
The angered three-man Panel walked out for a short break and returned for a possible verdict but on resumption, Ameh apologised for his uproar, adding that his intention was never to create such impression as noted by the Tribunal.
The Tribunal warned Ekong and other observers not to force the Tribunal to halt the use of phones during sittings.
It also cautioned Ameh and other Counsel not to allow their emotions take over them.
It was not a very good outing for Akpabio and the APC as Ndueso Udoka, an INEC Staff and Supervisory Presiding Officer (SPO) for Odoro Ikot Ward 2, Essien Udim LGA testified that officials were abducted at gun point by Hon. Emmanuel Akpan a serving federal lawmaker, and forced to write results in favour of the APC.
This, he said accounts for Senator Akpabio’s claim that APC scored a whopping 7, 991 votes in the ward, while other political parties including the eventual winner recorded no vote.