Posted by Timige, On 10 Nov, 2023 | Updated On 11 Nov, 2023 No Comments »
The Appeal Court, Lagos Division, has dismissed the petitions filed by Action Alliance and Accord Party against the election of Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State.
The three-member panel led by Justice Tani Hassan on Friday dismissed the petitions after the appellate court observed that the findings of the Election Petition Tribunal were unassailable.
“I resolve the issue against the appellant and uphold the judgment of the tribunal.
“I dismiss the petition as lacking in merit,” Hassan held.
The Action Alliance and its governorship candidate, Akpan Udolt, had contended that the party’s name was not captured on the ballot paper.
They therefore urged the court to nullify the election.
However, Eno and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, prayed the court to discountenance the submission of AA.
Mr Paul Usoro (SAN), counsel for the PDP and the governor, argued among other things that the appellants were not vested with the locus standi ‘to present or initiate the petition.
His argument was based on the provisions of Section 133(1) of the Electoral Act 2022.
According to him, the section unambiguously stipulates that “an election petition may be presented by one or more of the following persons (a) a candidate in an election;or (b) a political party which participated in the election”.
He, also stated that Section 133(1) of the Electoral Act was clear that the appellant did not have locus standi to initiate the appeal.
Usoro urged the court to dismiss the appeal.
Earlier, the appeal court had reserved judgment in the case filed by the All Progressives Congress against the governor.
Counsel for the APC, Mr Hassan Liman, had submitted that Eno was convicted by an Upper Area Court in Abuja.
He argued that it is a constitutional disqualification for a sitting governor to be convicted by a court.
Liman, said though the respondents (Eno and the PDP) had argued that the sentence was set aside by the same court, but they should not have participated in the March 18, 2023 election.
He also urged the court to disqualify the candidate of the Young Peoples Party who came second in the election, for presenting a forged certificate to INEC.
He said, “I submit, having found that the first respondent (Eno) and second respondent (YPP’s candidate) having been disqualified constitutionally, their votes be nullified.
“The decision of the tribunal be set aside and the second runner up (APC) be declared as the duly elected governor of Akwa Ibom State.”
In his response, counsel for the PDP said all the witnesses brought by the petitioner unanimously said that the sentence in issue was set aside by the same court that pronounced it.
He also said that the tribunal had held that it lacked jurisdiction to set aside judgment of a court.
Usoro urged the appeal court to dismiss the appeal as lacking in merit.
Other parties in the case aligned with the submission of Usoro.
The three-member panel, however, reserved judgment and said that the date would be communicated to the parties.
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