Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel has vowed to challenge the nullification of his election by the Court of Appeal which yesterday in Abuja ordered a fresh election in all the local government areas of the state.
The appeal court yesterday cancelled the entire April 11, 2015 governorship election that produced Governor Emmanuel of the Peoples Democratic Party on account of gross irregularities in the election.
Consequently, the court in a unanimous judgment ordered that a fresh election be conducted within 90 days in compliance with the Electoral Act 2010.
Delivering judgment in an appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Umana Okon Umana, the appellate court set aside the judgment of the state election petition tribunal delivered October 21, which nullified the election in 18 out of the 31 local government areas of the state.
A panel of five justices of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Oludotun- Okojie held that, having established that the irregularities in the election were statewide , the tribunal ought not to have spared the remaining 13 local government areas.
The appellate court justices held that the evidence from all parties showed that there was no collation during the purported election and as such, election cannot be said to have been conducted under that circumstances.
Jutice Oludotun-Okojie also said that the non substantial compliance with the electoral act in the conduct of the election, entitles the lower tribunal to have nullified the entire election held in the state.
According to the court, there was no dispute that the votes cast on the election day exceeded the number of accredited voters for the election, adding also that in the face of the malpractices, Governor Emmanuel could not have been said to have scored the majority of the lawful votes cast.
According to her, while 437, 128 voters were accredited, for the election, over 1, 222, 885 votes were said to have been cast showing an excess of 685, 780 votes accredited for the poll.
From simple arithmetic, no one needs a soothsayer to conclude that there was over voting in the entire election in the state.
The APC governorship candidate, Umana Okon Umana had appealed against the judgment of the state governorship election petition tribunal, which on October 21 cancelled the poll in 18 and upheld election in the remaining 13 local government areas in the state.
In the appeal argued by his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun ( SAN), Umana prayed the court for cancellation of the entire election, in view of the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to comply with the Electoral Act and guidelines for the election.
He said INEC’S document showing the over voting was not disputed by any of the parties in the matter.
Meanwhile, the governor has said he would appeal the judgment at the Supreme Court. According to the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Aniekan Umana, “ we will definitely go to Supreme Court. We are not afraid of facing election because we know we can win over and over again, but we want to exhaust the legal option.” -The Sun