Monday, February 15, 2016 6:17 pm
The Supreme Court on Monday adduced reasons for affirming Udom Emmanuel of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as validly elected governor of Akwa Ibom.
Justice Chima Nweze, who gave the reasons, said that the decision of the lower court was a misjudgment based on only facts and not on the provisions of the laws.
Nweze said the decisions of the lower court swayed the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the use of card readers for the election.
He further held that the lower court denied the governor fair hearing.
“From the study of the evidence brought before us Udom Emmanuel won the highest lawfully cast votes. This has placed the court to set aside the judgments of the two lower courts as the other parties challenging his victory could prove otherwise.
“The lower courts were wrong to have cancelled elections in 18 and subsequently the entire 31 Local Government Areas of the state on the basis of non-compliance,’’ he held.
“While we commend the introduction of the card readers, the innovation, however, cannot supersede the voters register.
“The extant laws of the federation provides for the use of voters register but the card reader irrespective of its importance does not have a place in any extant law of the land,’’ Nweze held.
Nweze, therefore, held that the tribunal was wrong to base its judgment on non-compliance with the use of card readers.
On allegation of violence and irregularities during the election, Nweze said Umana Umana and the All Progressives Congress (APC) failed to prove the allegations.
“The two respondents were not able to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt because they failed to bring witnesses from all the polling units to substantiate their claims,’’ Nweze said.
Nweze held that to prove non-accreditation, the respondents ought to have tendered the voters register and then demonstrate it how it was abused.
“I do align myself to earlier decision of the apex court that the provision of the law recognises the voters register as the only key element to conduct any elections,” he said.
While noting that INEC had power to make subsidiary regulations regarding conduct of election, Nweze held that the regulations must conform to constitutional provisions.
Nweze held that the extant laws did not give room for arbitrary nullification of an election.
“Petitioners have got to prove that there was substantial non-compliance in all polling units before we could take such allegation serious,” he said.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja had nullified the Akwa Ibom governorship election of April 11.
The governor’s election was challenged by the APC and its candidate, Umana.
At the election tribunal, the governor secured partial victory, as it ordered a rerun in 18 out of the state’s 31 local government areas.
The governor challenged the ruling, insisting he won in all 31 local government areas, but the Court of Appeal went on to nullify the entire election.
Justices Mary Peter-Odili and Clara Ogunbiyi had hinged on the above reasons to justify the return of Delta,Yobe and Oyo States governors.