There is an uneasy calm in the camp of All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in the March 9 2019 election following the testimony of Obong Nsima Ekere at the election petition tribunal sitting in Uyo on Thursday.
Mounting the dock as PW46, Obong Nsima Ekere went outside his earlier statement deposed before the tribunal which he adopted as his evidence to call for a total nullification of the entire exercise in the 31 local government areas in Akwa Ibom state.
This according to our source who is close to his legal team threw his learned counsels off balance as his earlier prayer before the tribunal was for him to be declared the winner of the election, having scored the highest number of lawful votes cast.
Nsima who spent over two hours on Thursday at the tribunal to confirm the certified true copies of the document obtained from INEC, however, went off the original plan by his legal team during cross-examination by 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents in the petition.
Trouble started when he was asked by counsel to 1st respondent Dr.Onyechi Ikpaezu SAN, if he was by his testimony implying that no one should be declared the winner of the election and whether he was abandoning his witness statement where he had prayed the tribunal to declare him the winner of the election, and answered in the affirmative.
It was a different ball game when counsel to the 2nd respondent (PDP) Tayo Oyetibo SAN took turn to cross-examine the witness and Obong Nsima Ekere could not hold back his emotions as he declared that he is abandoning his witness statement wherein he prayed the tribunal to declare him winner by calling for full nullification of the exercise.
When asked if the local government areas he seeks nullification include Etim Ekpo and Essien Udim local government areas where he won, he affirmed that he has abandoned everything in pursuit of full nullification of the exercise.
After his disastrous outing at the tribunal and the seeming mistakes by his running mate Dr. Ahmadu Attai who was PW47, Nsima Ekere had stormed out of the tribunal with a message to his legal team to meet him at his plot A 92 Lagos street residence at Ewet Housing Estate, he waited impatiently for the arrival of his legal team and could barely welcome them before unleashing his frustrations on them.
He practically told J.S Okutepa SAN that he wouldn’t mind debriefing him as it appears they were no longer on the same page in the matter.
When he was reminded that he committed a grievous error to have adopted his witness statement and at the same time prayed for total nullification of the exercise which by law means that there should be another panel to hear his fresh petition since he has abandoned the previous new prayer, Nsima reminded him that he (J.S Okutepa) had on his part by not advising him to come to the tribunal with the list of PDP members recruited by INEC as APO, SPO, and Returning Officers.
He also accused his legal team of not doing enough to protect him before the tribunal as they promised by allowing them to ask for evidence of things such as video of PDP conveying voters to polling units in Ibesikpo Asutan or video of PDP members using voters card other than theirs to vote in the election. According to an enraged Nsima Ekere, with their much talked about the experience in electoral cases, they should have advised him accordingly.
All effort by J.S Okutepa SAN to calm the former NDDC managing director down proved abortive as he lamented that he was not ready to lose his petition if the senior advocate knows his onions
Our source hinted that as J.S Okutepa who has never lost an election petition before is going back tomorrow, he may not return as the Governor’s team opens his defense by Monday next week.