The National Assembly Elections Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has thrown out the application filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its senator-elect, Chris Ekpenyong, seeking to stop Senator Godswill Akpabio of the All Progressives Congress, APC, from inspecting election materials.
Chairman of the Tribunal Justice W. O. Akambi, said the application by Ekpenyong did not seat well with the tribunal wondering why the petitioner Akpabio, should not inspect materials in an election he participated in.
“The argument does not appeal to the tribunal and as such, the application is merely an academic exercise,” Akambi held.
The tribunal further criticised the PDP and Ekpenyong for attempting to cause the Tribunal to reverse itself.
Recall that the court had on April 2 granted an ex-parte order to Sen Akpabio and the APC to inspect of materials used in the February 23 Senatorial elections in Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District in the custody of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
However the PDP sought a counter order of the Tribunal barring the APC and Akpabio from inspecting the materials.
Counsel to PDP, Mr. Solomon Umoh, SAN had prayed the Tribunal to dismiss Akpabio’s petition in its entirety as well as “set aside the petitioner’s request for inspection and forensic analysis of election materials.”
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However, in his ruling Akanbi, declared that the PDP’s application for the inspection order to be reversed was alien to law.
He agreed with Sunday I. Ameh, SAN, counsel to Akpabio that Ekpenyong and the PDP suffered no prejudice having been invited to be part of the inspection process.
He said the PDP Counsel only succeeded in “hell-raising technicalities to waste the time of the Tribunal.”
Akanbi said Senator Akpabio’s demand for inspection of electoral materials and the tribunal order granting same were in line with the provisions of Section 151 sub-sections 1 and 2 of the Electoral Act.
According to the Tribunal, “any party is at liberty to adopt any method of inspection. The parties involved in an election can chose to bring in forensic experts. The inspection can also be manually done. Even if the inspection is done with laboratory equipment, the law is okay with that.”
The Tribunal Chairman likened the PDP’s action to “crying wolf where there is none.”
Speaking to newsmen after the ruling, Patrick Umoh, who stood in for the petitioner’s lead counsel, Sunday Ameh, SAN, said the ruling had deepened judicial practice.
“We salute the judicial system. The ruling is good for the Nigerian legal system. We now know the position of the law that with an ex-parte order you can inspect electoral materials as well as maintain your petition in court,” he said.
Further hearing has been adjourned to Friday, May 10, 2019.