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Today, September 10, 2019, The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, The Akwa Ibom State Capital received the final addresses of all the parties in the case filed by Obong Nsima Ekere, challenging the re-election of Mr Udom Emmanuel as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in the March 9 election.

Read brief summary of the addresses as adopted by parties below:

*1st Respondent-Mr Udom Emmanuel*

A) ADDRESSES ON OBJECTIONS TO ADMISSIBILITY OF DOCUMENTS TENDERED BY THE PETITIONER

The 1st Respondent filed an address in support of his objection to the admissibility of documents tendered by the petitioner and also filed a reply on point of law to the Petitioner’s reply to the objection on admissibility of documents filed by the Petitioner in the case. He consequently urged the court to reject all the documents tendered by the Petitioner in the case.

B) ON THE MERIT OF THE CASE

The 1st Respondent also filed a final written address on the 30 of August, 2019 and a reply on point of law dated on the 6th of September, 2019. The 1st Respondent equally adopted the said addresses, through his lead Counsel, Dr Ikpeazu, SAN and thereupon urged the Tribunal to dismiss the case. He relied principally on a Supreme court case, No. SC409/2019, PDP & Anor vs. INEC & Ors (an unreported decision of the supreme Court delivered on the 24 of May, 2019)

*2nd Respondent- The Peoples Democratic Party*

A) ADDRESSES ON OBJECTIONS TO ADMISSIBILITY OF DOCUMENTS TENDERED BY THE PETITIONER

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The 2nd Respondent filed an address on the 31 of August, 2019 on the objection to the documents sought to be tendered by the Petitioner in the case. The 2nd Respondent also filed a reply on point of law to the Petitioner’s reply on the 8th day of September, 2019. The 2nd Respondent consequently urged the court to reject all the documents tendered by the Petitioner in the case.

B) ON THE MERIT OF THE CASE

The 2nd Respondent filed their written address on the 31st day of August, 2019. The 2nd Respondent on receipt of the Petitoners written address also filed their reply on point of law and urged the court to dismiss the petition describing same as vague and otiose. The lead counsel to the 2nd Respondent, Tayo Oyetibo SAN in making his argument relied on plethora of cases including University of Jos v Dr Ikegwuoha (2013) LPELR 20233 @ 38.

*3rd Respondent- Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)*

A) ADDRESSES ON THE ADMISSIBILITY OF DOCUMENTS FILED BY THE PETITIONER

The 3rd Respondent, INEC also filed their addresses on the admissibility of the documents tendered by the petitoners and urged the court to reject all the documents tendered by the petitioner in the petition and all the Petitioner’s arguments seeking to justify the admissibility of the documents the petitioner brought to the Tribunal.

B) ON THE MERIT OF THE CASE

The 3rd Respondent, lead by Sylva Ogwemoh, SAN adopted ther address and urged the court to dismiss the Petiton because of the apparent, clear, irreconcilable and unpardonable inconsistencies on the petition.

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*The Petitioner- Obong Nsima Ekere, All Progressives Congress*

A) ADDRESSES ON ADMISSIBILITY OF DOCUMENTS TENDERED BY THE PETITIONER

The Petitioner also filed their addresses, first opposing the Respondents objection to the admissibility of documents tendered by them in the court and urged the court to admit their documents in the petition.

B) ON THE MERIT OF THE CASE

The Petitioner urged the court, by their arguments in their written address to grant the Petitioner’s prayers in the petition, that is, to cancel the elections being conducted in a manner not in tandem with the provisions of the Electoral Act for the conduct of elections in Nigeria.

BRIEF BACKGROUND

It is necessary to adumberate that the documents tendered by the Petitioner, Obong Nsima Ekere and the APC which all the Respondents have objected to were photocopies of election results and INEC forms tendered by the petitioner in the case in effort to prove that they won the March 9 elections.

The said election results and INEC forms are in fact public documents and can only come to court when same are duly certified by the appropriate authority and only the Certified True Copy (CTC) can be admissible. The documents filed by the Petitioner were not the CTC of those documents. See Section 103 and 104 of the Evidence Act, 2014.

On the substance of the case, the Petitioner had approached the court seeking to declare Obong Nsima Ekere as the winner of the March 9 Gubernatorial elections in Akwa Ibom State. In the course of the trial, the petitioner recanted on their initial prayers and sought the court to cancel the elections and order a rerun, citing non-compliance with the Electoral Act as the grounds for their prayer.

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WHAT NEXT?

With the addresses thus adopted, the litigation has been concluded in substance at the Tribunal level. The court thereupon adjourned to write its ruling and noted that the date for judgement shall be communicated in due course and within the limits of the law for the conclusion of Election Petiton cases.

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