The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has dismissed petitions brought before it by the African Democratic Congress, ADC, candidate Arc. Ezekiel Nyaetok, and the New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP, candidate Senator John James Akpan Udoedehe for lack of merit.
Nyaetok of the ADC sought the disqualification of Pastor Umo Eno, claiming that he was convicted by an Abuja Magistrate Court and that, as a result, all votes cast for him during the March 18 elections should be null and void.
He also challenged other candidates who received more votes than him, claiming that they were hampered by litigation that made it impossible for them to participate in the election.
However, the panel’s chairman, Justice Adekunle Adeleye, found in his ruling that the same magistrate court presided over by Emeka Iyama handed a judgment nullifying its earlier conviction of Pastor Umo Eno, and that once a judgment is negated, it ceases to exist.
The tribunal also ruled that Nyaetok’s petition lacked merit because the petitioner was unable to identify one voting unit in which the electoral law was not followed in the March 18 governorship election.
In addition, the petition of the NNPP candidate in suit no. EPW/AKS/GOV/03/23, which centered on charges of certificate forgery, was dismissed because the case had been settled in favor of governor Umo Eno at the Supreme Court.
In his arguments, the NNPP governorship candidate claimed that Gov. Eno was convicted by the Wuse Magistrate Court in Abuja, depriving him of the right to run in the March 18, 2023, governorship election.
He requested that the Tribunal cancel the election and hold a new one within 90 days.
When given the enrolled order of the Wuse Magistrate Court repudiating its judgement orders during cross questioning, the NNPP candidate admitted that he had no awareness of the existence of the order before his petition.
In their argument, counsel for the PDP and Pastor Umo Eno emphasized that the NNPP petition is extremely unambitious, as the petitioner has not only failed to substantiate the criminal claim of forgery, but has also failed to specify what he seeks.
In response to the decision, Barr Emmanuel Enoidem, Counsel to the PDP, said the petitioners failed to prove that Pastor Umo Eno did not fit the constitutional qualifications for the post of Governor, adding that majority of their accusations were pre-election events that they could not also substantiate.