Akpabio not returning to Senate, Ekpenyong wins at Tribunal

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Christopher Ekpenyong

The National and State House of Assembly Election Tribunal, sitting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state has upheld the election of Christopher Ekpenyong, striking out the petition by Sen. Godswill Akpabio.

In a landmark judgment delivered on Wednesday, the Tribunal held that the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) remained valid.

Senator Akpabio, the 1st Petitoner had challenged the elections on the ground that Sen. Ekpenyong was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast and thet the process that elected him contravened the Electoral Act.

The court dismissed all the preliminary objections filed by all the Respondents in the petition and resolved to settle the case on the merits, to wit:

a) Did the Petitioner prove by admissible evidence that the election was invalid?

b) Did the 1st Petitioner establish that he, Senator Godswill Akpabio won the elections by polling the highest number of votes cast at the elections against Senator Christopher Ekpenyong who was declared winner by the INEC?

Relying on the case of ANDREW v. INEC, the court thereupon held that the Petitioner’s evidence was too weak in all ramifications to prove non-compliance, which is the only ground for which nullification of the elections was sought.

The court further stated that the petition failed to bring any witness from the polling units and thus could not prove substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

The court in the end, in a majority Judgement of two justices dismissed the petition and upheld the declaration of Senator Christopher Ekpenyong as the winner of the February 23, 2019 elections.

There was however a dissenting Judgement by 1 out of the 3 judges of the Tribunal.

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