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Godswill Akpabio Not Returning To Senate As Tribunal Dismisses Petition

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The national and state house of assembly election petitions tribunal,
sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has upheld the election of
Christopher Ekpenyong, striking out Senator Godswill Akpabio’s
petition.

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

Akpabio, the first petitioner had challenged the elections on the
ground that Ekpenyong was not duly elected by the majority of lawful
votes cast and that 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: “Did the petitioner prove by admissible evidence that
the election was invalid?

“Did the first 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 a
winner by the INEC?”

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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 judgment of two justices (one of
the three judges dissented), dismissed the petition and upheld the
declaration of Ekpenyong as the winner of the February 23, 2019
election.

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Original Author

SaharaReporters, New York

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