The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Wednesday dismissed suit number EPW/AKS/GOV/03/23, brought by the governorship candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party in the last gubernatorial election, Senator John James Akpan Udoedehe and affirmed the election of Pastor Umo Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) in the state.
Delivering the judgement which lasted about One Hour and thirty minutes, the Tribunal in a unanimous decision concluded that the petition by Senator Akpanudoedehe and his party against Umo Bassey Eno of the PDP and INEC deserves no less a verdict than dismissal for lacking in merit.
The judgement against the petition by the former Senator followed the defective trajectory of two previous cases dismissed by the tribunal two weeks ago, by virtue of the attempt to bring back former issue of certificate forgery levelled against Governor Eno, which was previously decided by the Supreme Court.
Counsel to the PDP had told the tribunal that the petition was “most unambitious”, as the Petitioners neglected and refused to declare what they really wanted in their prayers.
Akpanudoedehe of the NNPP had in his arguments claimed that Eno was convicted by the Wuse Magistrate Court, Abuja and was not qualified to have contested the March 18, 2023 governorship election in the state
He prayed the Tribunal to cancel the election and order a fresh poll within 90 days.
He also alleged that Eno was born in Enugu though he declined to show proof of such claim as he neither front-loaded nor relied upon any document to back it.
The Tribunal Chairman Justice Adekunle Adeleye said he was surprised that out of 5000 voting units in the state, the NNPP candidate brought only 2 witnesses with Akpan Udoeghe himself as one of the two witnesses.
During cross-examination, the NNPP gubernatorial candidate admitted a he was shown the enrolled order of the Wuse Magistrate Court repudiating its judgement orders, and that he lacked knowledge of the existence of the order before his petition.
Counsel to the PDP and Pastor Umo Eno had noted in their submission that the NNPP petition is most unambitious, as the petitioner has not only failed to prove the criminal allegation of forgery but also failed to state what he wants.
The tribunal therefore ruled that the petition was lacking in merit and should be trashed.
Reacting to the judgement, Counsel to the PDP, Barr Emmanuel Enoidem told journalists that the judgement was in strong agreement with the position of the law.
Enoidem said the petitioners failed to prove that Pastor Umo Eno did not meet the constitutional entry requirements for office of the Governor, adding that most of their claims were pre-election matters which they could not also substantiate.
” Today the case put to rest by the eminent jurists who brought the bear in their ruling,” he said