It was a bad Wednesday for the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Umana Okon Umana at the Akwa Ibom State Election Petition Tribunal as he watched in anger as the witnesses whom he had brought as witnesses made some blunders which may cost him the case. At the tribunal, Mr Umana frowning uncontrollably and making gestures to his lawyer as his witnesses committed unpardonable mistakes that the lawyers for the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel may capitalize on to cause the tribunal to dismiss his case.
There was a common trend among the witnesses, either from lack of proper rehearsals before appearing at the dock or plain forgetfulness. The common trend among APC witnesses was to insist that there was no election in Akwa Ibom State. However, at Wednesday’s hearing where APC witnesses were cross-examined by the lead counsel of the PDP governorship candidate, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the testimonies of APC witnesses crumbled under legal scrutiny.
Departing from the popular refrain that there was no election in Akwa Ibom State, APC witness, Engr Emmanuel Alfred contradicted the position of his party by insisting that election actually took place, which he participated in by voting. When reminded by Counsel to PDP, Mr Tayo Oyetibo, SAN that his position contradicted his sworn affidavit, he revealed that the affidavit was prepared by the APC lawyer, maintaining his position that there was election. He maintained that anyone who said there was no election was a liar.
His submission corroborated the submission of another APC witness, Mr Nkereuwem Okpok of Ikot Asat Nsit of Nsit Ibom Local Government Area who also confirmed that INEC in the Local Government Area had distributed some materials on the Friday preceding the election and that he had participated and voted in the election.
He mentioned some wards in the Local Government Area, which he said election had taken place. In the same vein, Hon Charles Udoetuk from Etim Ekpo who claimed to be a businessman said he was the Local Government collation agent for the APC. He said that he was at the Local Government collation centre from morning till night, and that his claims in his affidavit that there was no election was based on hearsay and reports from the APC ward agents as he was not in a position to witness the election in the units because of his duties at the Local Government.
Another witness, Mr Raphael Arakpan of Eastern Obolo Local Government Area who along with other witnesses claimed there was widespread violence during the election, claimed he never personally witnessed the violence but was based on the report of others, which they never reported to the Police. Wednesday’s court session was a continuation of the contradictory streak of the APC witnesses at the tribunal.
Earlier, another witness brought by the APC, a certain Dr Martins Inyang from Ini Local Government Area who claimed to have worked for the Democratic Peoples Party had stunned the Tribunal when he claimed that if anyone should have been declared a winner of the election, it should not have been Umana but the candidate of his party. Cross-examination of witnesses continues.