By Ekele Peter Agbo
The hearing in the matter between Akwa Ibom senatorial election continued Tuesday with the witnesses for the respondent, former governor Godswill Akpabio admitting that people of the area had always recognised and voted for the opposition.
The All Progressive Congress for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District, Chief Inebehe Okori had approached the tribunal challenging conduct of the election and declaration of Obong Godswill Akpabio as winner of the poll.
The witness admitted before the tribunal that their constituencies have in the past elections voted for some members of the opposition.
Micheal Akpan had earlier told the tribunal that Ukanafun people have always voted for the PDP as a tradition.
But when asked by counsel to the petitioner, Chief Assam Assam SAN, if he knew Ubong Etiebet, he admitted he knew him as a former Member of the House of Representatives for Ukanafun/Oruk Anam Federal Constituency under the ANPP.
He also admitted that the area also voted a former council chairman, Hon Eseme Udoh from the opposition party thus contradicting his earlier claim that the PDP is the only popular political party in Ukanafun.
Presented with the Card Reader analysis of his ward to tell the court how many polling unit had accreditation, Hon Akpan admitted that though 8 polling units exist in his ward, there was no accreditation in unit 003,005 and 007.
Another witness, Barr Micheal Nyah from Ikot Abia Idem village in Ikot Ekpene was called but the petitioners counsel, Assam Assam SAN said the witness being a lawyer be asked to step aside because in his statement on oath, Micheal Nyak was written and not Micheal Nyah.
He submitted that what is in dispute borders on admissibility of documentary evidence which is anchored on Section 12(3) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act.
“The witness in the box has no statement on oath to the 1st Respondents reply. Section 94(1) of the Evidence Act being anchored as a means of defence does not apply here. This is not an erroneous affidavit. There is no statement on oath sworn to by the witness”, he submitted.
After hearing fron both parties, the tribunal ruled on whether or not to allow the witness testify.
The tribunal said the mistake was unpardonable as Akpabio’s lawyer ought to have discovered the misspelling before calling the witness and since the witness had denied the statement on oath he stands disallowed from testifying.
Also testifying, Hon Eyoma Nkanta told the tribunal that elections held in Ika and that he voted.
He was given the Local Government Card Reader Report which stood at 12,793 but a result of 26,484 was declared and his polling unit card reader analysis which showed that only 261 voters were accredited but a result of 550 was declared on the final result sheet.
He admitted that former member of the House of Representatives, Hon Akaniyene Eyo, former members of the State Assembly, Iniobong Ekanem and Ernest Ukpong and former chairman of council , Dr Francis Udoikpong all won under the then APP after massively and overwhelmingly defeating the PDP as against his earlier testimony that the PDP have always been winning elections in Ika.
Akpabio’s last witness for Tuesday was Elijah Ekanem from Ikot Ekpene who said he voted in his polling unit 001, Lutheran High School Gate, Ikot Ekpene where card reader showed 229 as total number of accredited voters.
But when asked to read the result sheet, he said he forgot his glasses at home and could not read.
Not even a flash light provided by the tribunal registrar could make him see.
He earlier claimed he saw a large crowd of APC supporters in his polling unit when he came for accreditation but denied knowing or seeing any APC member when asked if he saw them when he came back for voting.
He denied seeing other voters being accredited as he left after being accredited.
The case was adjourned to September 16,2015 for continuation of hearing.
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