The Electoral Petitions Court of the National Assembly of Akwa Ibom has rejected the request of Senator Godswill Akpabio of the All Progressive Congress (APC) challenging Chris Ekpenyong’s victory of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the election of the Northwestern Senate District of Akwa Ibom.
However, one of the judges in the three-man panel confirmed the request of Senator Akpabio, now Minister of Affairs of the Niger Delta, and announced the annulment of Dr. Chris Ekpenyong’s victory as senator representing Akwa Ibom Northwest ( Ikot Ekpene) Senate District.
Naija new today report that the Judge S. H Tahir said that the petitioners, Akpabio and APC had no need to present agents of the voting unit to prove their victory, since they were not questioning what happened in the units.
Tahir further noted that the power to cancel illegal votes was not in the hands of the returning officer but in the hands of the voting unit officers.
Tahir urged INEC to retrieve the Ekpenyong return certificate and hand it over to Akpabio as elected district senator.
But in a majority decision of the court read by the president of the panel, Judge WO Akanbi, the court held that the petitioners could not bring any witnesses to the voting units and, therefore, could not prove a substantial breach of the Law Electoral.
Akanbi said: “Every reasonable person must support free, fair and credible choice. You cannot blame the returning officer for reporting what he saw to INEC. ”
The Court, in a two-judge majority trial, dismissed the petition and confirmed the statement of Senator Christopher Ekpenyong as the winner of the February 23, 2019 elections.
“The petition is dismissed because they have not been able to prove the breach at all,” the court said.