The Court of Appeal in Abuja has nullified the governorship election held in Akwa Ibom State won by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Emmauel Udom.
The judgement was delivered on Friday in Abuja by the lead judge, Justice Adedotun Adefope-Okojie.
In the judgement, the five-man panel also ordered a fresh election in Akwa Ibom, hinging their decision on what they called substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
Violation Of Electoral Act
The appellate court held that evidence from all the parties showed that there was no collation during the governorship election and as such election could not have been held under that circumstance.
The court said there was no substantial compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 by the INEC in the conduct of the election, a situation they it said entitled the Governorship Election Tribunal to nullify the entire election in the state.
According to Justice Adefope-Okojie there was no dispute that the votes cast on the Election Day exceeded the number of accredited voters for the election.
“And in the face of the malpractices, Governor Udom could not have been said to have scored majority of the lawful votes cast,” he stressed.
According to the court, while 437,128 voters were accredited for the election, over 1,222,836 votes were said to have been cast at the polls.
From a simple arithmetic and application of some provisions of the law, no one needs a soothsayer to conclude that there was gross misconduct and violation of the Electoral Act, the court said.
To Appeal Judgement
Reacting to the ruling both the Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State, Uwem Nwoko and lawyers to the Governor said the appeal would be tested at the apex court and it would provide the judiciary the opportunity to make a definite pronouncement on the issues of the card reader.
For now, the two parties have to return to their trenches for the legal battle at the highest court in the land.
The judgement came nearly two months after the Akwa Ibom Governorship Election Petition Tribunal nullified elections in 18 local governments and ordered a re-run.
After the judgement of the Tribunal headed by Justice Sadiq Umar, on October 21, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate in the April 11 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Umana Umana, filed an appeal at the appellate court in Abuja, challenging the judgment of the Tribunal.
The APC and Mr Umana faulted the Tribunal’s judgment on grounds of ‘miscarriage of justice and turning upside down, the head of the natural justice’.
The two appellants asked the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the Tribunal in relation to the validation of election results in 13 local government areas of the state.
According to them, by nullifying elections in 18 out of 31 local government areas, Section 179(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution, which required that a candidate vying for the office of the Governor would be declared winner if he gets not less than one quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of the local government areas, has been breached.
They claimed that the Tribunal erred in not nullifying the election of Governor Udom of the PDP in its entirety since he did not meet the mandatory number needed to retain his seat.