Akwa Ibom State Governor Umo Eno has urged the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos to dismiss the appeal brought before it by Senator Bassey Akpan of the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
He prayed to the court to uphold the decision of the lower court, which declared him the winner of the governorship election of March 18, 2023.
YPP and Senator Akpan, in appeal number CA//C/EP/GOV/AKW/24/2023, are challenging the judgement of the Governorship Petitions Tribunal in Uyo, which confirmed Eno as the validly elected Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
According to a statement issued by his Senior Special Adviser on Research and Documentation, Dr Essien Ndueso, shortly after the hearing on Monday, the governor, through his lead counsel, Paul Usoro, SAN, faulted the arguments by the appellants that the judgement of the Supreme Court in the matter of certificate forgery by Mr Akan Okon was different from the certificate forgery case brought before the elections tribunal by Senator Akpan.
He had argued: “When the court gave the judgement, it clearly decided that the said documents were not forged but belonged to the second respondent. It implies that the judgement is applicable to PDP, INEC, the court, or any establishment for that matter.”
He argued further that: “It was legally imperative that there should be an end to litigation, and as such, the appellants had no reason to keep belabouring the court over a matter that had been sufficiently resolved at the highest court of the land.”
The appellants, jointly represented by Tunde Falola, held that they were dissatisfied by the ruling and judgement of the tribunal upholding the preliminary objections of the respondents and dismissing the petition, hence the appeal.
The appellants argued that they had presented 18 witnesses before the tribunal and had sufficiently shown that the second respondent was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election because he presented a forged certificate to INEC and that he was not elected by a majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
Counsel to INEC, Kolapo Kolade, SAN, said the petitioners never produced a true owner of the certificate, which they claimed did not truly belong to Umo Eno, and that they never produced any document to buttress their claims of forgery.
On his part, counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, among other things, argued that even the first appellant, Bassey Albert, presented before the lower court three documents that bear the arrangement of his name in three different ways: Akpan Albert, Bassey Albert Akpan, and Albert Bassey Akpan, yet still claimed ownership of the three documents.
Also, the governorship candidate of the Accord Party, Emem Coffie, approached the Appeal Court, seeking that the judgement of the lower trial tribunal be upturned in his favour.
The governorship candidate and his party, represented by their counsel, Chidi Nwachukwu, argued that he deserved to be declared the governor as other candidates in the election were not qualified to contest the election.
All matters were adjourned to a later date for judgement.