The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar, today heard the appeal filed by Obong Nsima Ekere and the APC against the judgement delivered by the Governorship Elections Petition tribunal which upheld the election of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Counsel for the first respondent, Ikpeazu SAN intimated the court of the existence of a preliminary objection seeking the striking out of two grounds of Appeal as there are no issues distilled from the said grounds.
Sylva SAN for the 3rd Respondent also informed the court that he had raised a similar objection as contained in their brief filed on 22/10/2019. He stated that their opposition is limited to ground 22 of the notice of appeal. He prayed the court to strike out the ground as it is deemed abandoned.
In response to the preliminary objection, Appellants’ counsel Okutepa SAN notifies the court that they had filed a reply brief filed in 25/10/2019.
Adopting their briefs the Appellants’ Counsel Okutepa, SAN notified the court that he filed his notice and grounds of Appeal on 7/10/2019. He also filed his brief of argument on 17/10/2019. Three reply briefs were filed by the appellant on 25/10/2019. He raised eight issues for determination by the court. He urged the court to allow the appeal and hold that there was no election held for the office of the Governor in Akwa Ibom State.
The 1st respondent’s brief of argument was filed on 22/10/2019. It was adopted by Ikpeazu SAN, urging the court to dismiss the appeal. He added that the appellants’ counsel even during his adomberation stated that results were entered where elections did not hold and such an allegation, being criminal in nature, deserves proof beyond reasonable doubt, which they did not do before the tribunal. He added that the appellants could not have sought to cancel elections in the whole of Akwa ibom state, using only 11 unit witnesses. He urged the court to dismiss the appeal.
Oyetibo SAN informed the court that the 2nd respondent’s brief was filed on the 22/10/2019 urging the court to dismiss the appeal. He added that the appellants cannot accuse the tribunal of technical justice when they had averred that lack of accreditation was the crux of their case. He reminded that the appellants did not lead any direct evidence to show the non ticking of the voters register all through the petition. He raised the issue of the complaint by the appellant that the court is functus once a ruling has been given, stating that the Supreme Court has authorized courts to expunge at the stage of judgement, evidence wrongly admitted , which they have become aware is inadmissible. He posited that this power to expunge is an exception to the general rule of functus post ruling or judgement.
The third Respondents filed their respondent’s brief of argument on 22/10/2019, which Slyvia SAN now adopted urging the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit. He added that the party who seeks the nullification of an election must do more than mere rhetorics considering that elections are conducted with tax payers money. He invited the court to undertake a careful perusal of the pleadings if the appellant, as petitioner before the tribunal. He also highlighted the obvious contradictions in the appellants’ averments.
Judgement is reserved