The Akwa Ibom state governorship elections litigation between Governor Udom Emmanuel of the PDP and APC Governorship candidate, Mr. Umana Umana, has lasted this long and attracted much media activity because it is of utmost importance not only to Akwa Ibom and Nigeria, but also to the Nigerian judiciary. Rulings by the Elections tribunal and the Court of Appeal have both been rejected, leaving the Supreme Court with the yoke of reinforcing confidence in the judicial process.
However, there are reasons to believe, on studying the grounds of appeal documents, that the Supreme Court will have an easier job to do than there is the weight of expectation on the anxiously awaited judgment.
Although a lot of critics are skeptical as to the outcome of the ruling, but a glimpse at the facts before the apex court shows that one does not need to be a prophet or a clairvoyant to tell exactly what the supreme court will say or not say on Wednesday, 3rd February, 2016.
A careful look at the judgement of the appellate court delivered on December 18 presents a scenario of either two extremes, and as Barr. Bassey Dan Abia (Jnr) observed recently during an interview, the two extremes are that of extreme compromise or extreme ignorance, fueling the belief that the appeal before the supreme court is as good as settled in favour of the Divine mandate – propelled Akwa Ibom State governor Udom Emmanuel.
After reading the judgements on Rivers, Zamfara, Lagos, Ebonyi and Yobe states, it is not difficult to know that the apex court will not support the position of the appellate court which in its judgement last December, relied solely on card reader for setting aside the April 11, 2015 governorship election, without considering manual accreditation process as prescribed and backed by the electoral act 2010 as amended. The appellate court also failed to consider the circumstance that led to the use of manual process in some polling units, prominent among the reasons being that some machines malfunctioned, and the electoral officials had to rely on the manual register as backed by law in order not to disenfranchise voters who had earlier been duly recognised by INEC and empowered with voter’s cards.
Contrary to the decision of the Appeal Court, Mr Umana’s counsel did not establish over-voting in the manner known to the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) as well as the extant judgement of the Supreme court of Nigeria. It was also not known why the APC candidate failed prove in the open court, polling unit by polling unit through the voter’s register how prospective voters were disfranchised in the governorship election, yet the Appeal Court judges in their wisdom, saw differently.
No matter the arguments presented by the APC, they never demonstrated in the open court polling unit by polling unit through the voter’s register that in all the 31 local government areas in Akwa Ibom state, the number of persons accredited on April 11, 2015 which was 1,222,836 exceeded the number of those registered in the INEC register in the state.
The evidence from INEC that the data from Exhibit 317 (the card reader) had not been fully uploaded further emphasized the necessity of the counsel to Governor Udom Emmanuel and the PDP to establish their case based on the Register of voters as recognized by the law rather than an electronic device known to no Nigerian law.
It is also incredible that the Appellate court relied on exhibits 12 and 337 which were letters written by Mr Musa Kabiru of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC) and Mr B. A. Bolanta an AIG of the Nigeria Police respectively. This becomes ridiculous as the authors of those documents never appeared at the lower court to admit to the documents or to be cross examined for the purpose of authenticating the veracity of their claims.
None of the so-called thousands of voters who were allegedly disenfranchised under security concerns, ever came to the court to collaborate the insecurity claim of the two security agents, and also substantiate that they would have voted for the APC on April 11, 2015.
The rulings in the aforementioned states clearly shows that the burden of proof was on the APC and its candidate Umana Umana who failed to establish same in the open court. The Appeal Court in the magnanimity of their lordships became father Christmas by granting prayers that were not sought by Mr Umana Umana and exceeding the scope of the appeal.
In view of this, it is not difficult to see that the apex court will restore the confidence of the common man in the judiciary by dismissing the petition of Mr Umana Umana and upholding the victory of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Source: Global Pilot