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Jubilation in APC camp as Tribunal grants application

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-This is not a second amendment! – Tribunal

The Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal on Thursday, 4th July granted an application by Mr. Nsima Ekere and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to insert omitted pages in its amended Petition filed by Mr. Nsima Ekere and APC. In a contested application, the Tribunal in a unanimous decision granted the application as prayed. Mr. Ekere was the Governorship Candidate of the APC in Akwa Ibom State and is challenging the outcome of the March 9, 2019 election where Mr. Udom Emmanuel was declared as winner in an election that is seen as largely flawed.

In the application, the Petitioners prayed the Tribunal to allow it insert inadvertently omitted pages arising from compilation of its amended Petition. This obviously harmless application was vehemently opposed by all the Respondents who filed Counter affidavits and written addresses in support of their contrary views.

All the Respondents (Udom Emmanuel, Peoples Democratic Party and INEC) opposed the application by filing counter affidavits and written addresses. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents filed counter affidavits of 6, 20 and 9 paragraphs respectively and urged the Tribunal to dismiss the Petitioners’ application as lacking in merit. In reply thereof, the Petitioners’ urged on the Tribunal to discountenance the objections and grant the application as prayed.

In a considered ruling delivered by the Chairman of the Tribunal Justice AM. Yakubu, he held that the Petition is not being amended for the second time as particulars of paragraph 50 which were omitted had never been amended as originally filed and the present application was not a second amendment as claimed by the Respondents. He maintained that election petition matters are sui generis and that substantial justice overrides unnecessary technicality. He relied on the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of MAMMAN v. BWACHA CA/YL/EPT/SEN/45/2015.

Earlier while marshaling out arguments for the grant of the application, Counsel to the Petitioners JS. Okutepa, SAN while leading Prof. Ernest Ojukwu, SAN, Chief Victor Iyanam, Solomon Etuk Esq and Effiong Oquong Esq drew a fine distinction between “a decision not to file” and “an omission to file”.

Meanwhile, there was ecstatic jubilation outside the Tribunal premises as obviously elated members of the APC hugged and thumped fists in celebration of the Tribunal’s ruling. This is apparently in reaction to slanted reportage in the media suspected to be sponsored by elements of the State Government giving the impression that the applications were frivolous and would be refused. Some of the members hailed the industry of the Tribunal and expressed confidence that justice will be served.

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