Appeal Court Upholds Umo Eno’s Victory

Tribunal Upholds Eno’s Election, Dismisses Akpan's Petition

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has affirmed the victory of Governor Umo Eno in the Akwa Ibom State governorship election.

Vox9ja understands that the court, on Friday, dismissed the petition filed by Action Alliance (AA) and Accord Party (AP) against Governor Eno.

The three-member panel led by Justice Tani Hassan, said that the findings of the tribunal were valid and unassailable.

Hassan ruled, “I resolve the issue against the appellant and uphold the judgement of the tribunal.

“I dismiss the petition as lacking in merit.”

The Action Alliance and its Governorship candidate, Akpan Udolt, had contended that the party’s name was not captured on the ballot paper.

They therefore urged the court to nullify the election.

However, Eno and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), prayed the court to discountenance the submission of AA.

Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro (SAN), counsel for PDP and the governor, argued among other things that the appellants were not vested with the locus standi to present or initiate the petition.

He based his argument pursuant to the provisions of Section 133(1) of the Electoral Act 2022.

According to him, the aforementioned section unambiguously stipulates that “an election petition may be presented by one or more of the following persons (a) a candidate in an election; or (b) a political party which participated in the election.”

He argued that Section 133(1) of the Electoral Act was clear that the appellant did not have locus standi to initiate the appeal. Usoro urged the court to dismiss the appeal.

Earlier, the appeal had reserved judgment in the case filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the same governor of Akwa Ibom State.

Counsel to APC, Hassan Liman, had contended that Governor Eno was convicted by an Upper Area Court in Abuja.

He argued that it is a constitutional disqualification for a sitting governor to be convicted by a court.

Liman said though the respondent (Governor Eno and PDP) had argued that the sentence was set aside by the same court, they should not have participated in the March 18, election.

He also urged the court to disqualify the candidate of the Young Peoples Party (YPP) who came second in the election, for presenting a forged certificate to INEC.

Liman said, “I submit having found that the first respondent (Governor Eno) and second respondent (YPP’s candidate) having been disqualified constitutionally, their votes be nullified.

“The decision of the tribunal be set aside and the second runner up (APC) be declared as the duly elected governor of Akwa Ibom State.”

In his response, counsel to PDP submitted that all the witnesses brought by the petitioner unanimously said that the sentence in issue was set aside by the same court that pronounced it.

He also said that the tribunal had held that it lacked jurisdiction to set aside the judgment of a court.

He urged the Appeal Court to dismiss the appeal as lacking in merit.

Other parties in the case aligned with the submission of Usoro.

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The three-member panel, however, reserved judgment and said that the date would be communicated to the parties.

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