Senator Godswill Akpabio and the All Progressives Congress’ team of lawyers, led by Patrick Umoh, has begun the inspection of the election materials used for the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District in the February 23 presidential and national assembly elections.
The inspection is coming after the the APC legal team cried out that the Independent National Electoral Commission in Akwa Ibom denied the team access to the materials.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party and its senatorial candidate in the election, Chris Ekpenyong, who was declared winner of the disputed election, kicked against the inspection.
Barrister EKom Nwoko, one of the lawyers representing the PDP at the tribunal, disclosed that the PDP and the first respondent, Ekpenyong, have filed a motion for the tribunal to set aside some reliefs granted ex-parte at the tribunal, especially the forensic examination of election materials.
Expressing the hope that some reliefs would be set aside, Nwoko added, “Our motion is premised on section 151 of the Electoral Act, and inspection of Electoral materials does not cover forensic examination of materials. That is the premise of our motion, and likely, the motion will come up next week, but we have not got a date yet.”
Meanwhile, the inspection which took place on Thursday, at the state headquarters of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Udo Udom a Avenue, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, had Nwoko of PDP legal team in attendance.
They were said to be led by the INEC officials to the Strong Room where the materials stacked in heaps were sorted out.
Speaking in an interview few hours later, the Public Affairs Officer of INEC, Akwa Ibom State, Don Etukudo, said the legal team of Akpabio was able to sort out the election materials for the ten local government areas of the senatorial district.
He said: “You have seen that the inspection process is going on. The legal team of the APC started the process of inspection of the election materials when we took them to the Strong Room and they saw the materials. What the APC legal team has been able to do today is to bring out the election materials for all the ten local government areas. By tomorrow (Wednesday) they will start the actual inspection of the materials. They will start with Abak, Etim Ekpo and Ika local government areas.”
Etukudo, who noted that the team was able to sort out election materials for the ten local government areas before 4:00pm, stressed that he had no doubt that the challenge of sorting the materials out from the stacked heaps would be surmounted.
On when inspection of materials for other cases at the tribunal would commence, Etukudo explained that the tribunal asked the commission to make materials available to only Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district.
Senator Akpabio had immediately after the election disputed the results from the district, claiming that he won the election, rather than the INEC declared winner, Ekpenyong.
Apkabio pproached the Election Petition Tribunal in the state to challenge the results.