The Appeal Court Lagos Division has dismissed two separate appeals against the election of Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State by the Governorship candidates of the Action Alliance, Akpan Jeremiah and that of the Accord Party, Emem Coffie.
In a unanimous decision of the three -man panel, the Appellate Court held that the case lacked merit, and that Pastor Umo Eno remains the validly elected Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
The governorship candidate of the Accord Party, Emem Coffie had approached the Appeal Court, seeking that the judgement of the lower trial tribunal be upturned in his favour.
The Governorship candidate and his party who were represented by their counsel, Chidi Nwachukwu argued that his client deserved to be declared the Governor as other candidates in the election, were not qualified to contest the election.
Coffie maintained that the respondents did not present any witness, and as such their petition ought to have been upheld.
In his brief of argument, Counsel to Governor Umo Eno, Paul Usoro,SAN, Counsel to INEC, Kolapo Kolade, SAN and Mofesomo Oyetibo faulted the claims by the appellants that 800 polling units recorded infractions, saying no effort was made by the petitioners to identify the 800 units, neither was there any attempt to bring witnesses from any of the said polling units.
The respondents also told the court that the only witness the appellants brought, was the Governorship candidate, Emem Coffie who admitted that he was only in his polling unit and after voting on the said date, went to his house.
“Every evidence they gave, amounted to hearsay and that is why the lower court dismissed the case,” Mofesomo Oyetibo, Counsel to the PDP told the Court.
In the appeal filed by Akpan Abraham of the Action Alliance against the 15th September judgment of the Governorship Election Tribunal, he and his party had appealed against what they described as unlawful exclusion by INEC, but the respondents in their separate briefs urged the court to discountenance the appeal by AA as abuse of court process.
The respondents argued that the suit constitutes pre-election matter bothering on internal party disputes, which the party itself failed to resolve before the elections.
Delivering judgement on Friday, the Appellate Court in Lagos upheld the arguments of the respondents and dismissed the case as lacking in merit.
Meanwhile, the Appeal Court also heard the appeal brought before it by the Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Akanimo Udofia and the candidate of the New Nigerian Peoples Party, John Akpanudoedehe.
The duo are challenging Umo Eno’s election on the premises that he was ineligible to contest in the 2023 elections.
Judgment on the two additional appeals by APC and NNPP, are also reserved to a later date by the Appellate court.