The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has upheld the election of Umo Eno of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor of Akwa Ibom State.
This followed the dismissal of the appeal filed by Bassey Albert Akpan of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) Akanimo Udofia of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and John Akpanudoedehe of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) challenging Eno’s election in the governorship election held earlier in the year.
At separate judgements, the Appellate Court struck out the respective appeals by the three appellants, describing them as lacking in merits.
The court ruled that the appellants missed the point by arguing that since they were not parties in the case, the judgement on the certificate matter was not binding on them.
“The declaratory judgment of a competent court is a judgement in rem is binding on the whole world, and not only on those who were parties in the case,” the court ruled.
The Court faulted the abuse of judicial process by the Appellants in re-litigating a matter that was dispensed at the High Court, Appeal Court and Supreme Court in favour of the 2nd respondent Pastor Umo Eno Bassey.
Ruling further on the appeal by the YPP governorship candidate, the appellate court also faulted the inability of the appellants to summon witnesses who were at the elections as polling agents, to prove their case of elections irregularities.
The court was of the opinion that Bassey Albert and his party only depended on documentary evidences amounting to hearsay, to allege irregularities, without making efforts to bring those who witnessed and took part in the elections at the polling units.
On the local government collation agents that the YPP candidate paraded before the court, the court held that “it is possible to say that the evidence given by Bassey Albert’s witnesses amounted to drama scripts meant to entertain the gallery and not serious statements that could influence the emergence of a Governor.”
The appeal court also dismissed the preliminary objection by Bassey Albert’s counsel, Tunde Falola, and ruled that the briefs filed by the respondents did not violate the Appeal Court practice direction.
Falola had raised objections, arguing that the briefs of argument by the respondents ran more than the number of pages stipulated by the court practice guidelines and should be rejected.
But the court dismissed the objection insisting that the extra pages did not constitute part of the briefs l, but were mere acknowledgment of authorities and addresses of parties.
The Court ruled that the burden of proof in the allegations that the name of the 2nd Respondent was not the same as the names on the 1981 and 1983 WAEC certificates, was on the Appellants, adding that they failed to establish the proof.