There was a mild drama at the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal in Akwa Ibom State when counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Solomon Umoh (SAN), tried unsuccessfully to prevent a witness, Godwin Afangideh, from reading the result from a document presented by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
The document was an exhibit presented by INEC in a petition filed by Senator Godswill Akpabio of the All Progressives Congress (APC), challenging the declaration of Christopher Ekpenyong (PDP), as the Senator for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.
Reading from the document given to him by counsel to PDP, the Witness, Afangide, said “My Lord even from this document APC scored a total votes 61,329 and PDP scored 9,050 in Essien Udim Local Government Area and it is recorded here.”
Umoh had attempted to shout down the witness from reading that part of the document.
Afangide had earlier tendered results collated from Wards across the Local Government Area as given to him by the party agents which clearly showed that Senator Akpabio had won the election in his own Local Government Area with a wide margin.
The witness expressed surprise at the voters’ register tendered in court and said it was different from the one that was used on election day. He confirmed that he had voted along with his family members.
According to Afangide the elections in Essien Udim Local Government Area were very peaceful as attested to by security agencies, local and foreign observers.
Two Police Officers, the Area Commander, Ikot Ekpene Area Command, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Naziru Bello Kankarofi and the Divisional Police Officer, Essien Udim Local Government, Superintendent of Police, Samuel Isiek, on subpoena tendered situation reports on the conduct of the National Assembly elections.
The reports were duly admitted as exhibits despite the initial objections of counseld to the PDP, Umoh, counsel to the respondent, Chief Kanu Agabi and counsel to INEC, Robert Emukpoeruo . They reserved their objections till final addresses.
Another Witness, Chris Akpan who was a Ward Collation Agent told the tribunal that the results that were declared by INEC in Uyo did not reflect collated results from the Units and Wards of the Local Government Area.
Reacting to suggestions by the counsel to INEC that results from the Local Government Area of Senator Akpabio were cancelled because of violence, the witnesses expressed surprise and said they were hearing of violence for the first time at the tribunal.
Senator Akpabio had so far called 14 witnesses mostly Ward Agents who have tendered duly collated results. Results so far tendered showed he had led his opponent with a wide margin before INEC cancelled the results in Uyo.