The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo on Thursday struck out a petition brought by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Engr Akanimo Udofia, challenging the victory of Pastor Umo Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 18th, 2023 governorship elections in the state.
Udofia prayed the tribunal to disqualify Pastor Umo Eno on the ground that he presented forged documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and inability to score the highest number of valid votes in the election.
The APC candidate also accused Umo Eno of being convicted by an Abuja Magistrate Court urging the Tribunal to nullify his elections.
But in favour of Eno, the Tribunal in its unanimous decision ruled that the allegations of substantial noncompliance with the electoral law in the conduct of the poll were not sufficiently proven by the petitioners in their case.
The Tribunal Chairman Justice Adekunle Adeleye and his team unanimously ruled that the said magistrate court in its judgment, nullified its earlier conviction of Pastor Umo Eno adding that once a judgment is nullified, it ceases to exist.
The tribunal disagreed with the petitioner on the legality of setting aside judgment by the same magistrate.
“It is not the duty of the tribunal to determine if the decision of the magistrate court to upturn its own judgment was justified. That falls under the jurisdiction of the Abuja High Court.”
The Tribunal maintained that pastor Umo Eno can not be disqualified as the Supreme Court had already decided on the authenticity of the WAEC certificates he submitted to INEC.
In the judgement read by Justice Kadi Usman Sikudu tribunal held that the petitioners having alleged that Pastor Eno was not the owner of the certificate he submitted to the INEC, did not produce any other person, as the authentic owner of the said 1981 WAEC certificate.
The tribunal also struck out the evidence tendered by the petitioners’ subpoenaed witness, an acclaimed Interpol officer, who came to tender a report against WAEC results pastor Umo Eno.
The Tribunal Chairman said the petitioners’ allegation that the PDP made use of public office holders and other mercenaries such as one Uwem Ekanem as collation agents in Ikot Abasi local government area did not hold water.