‘Your governorship candidate is a criminal convict incapacitated by the constitution’ -PDP to YPP
‘The second respondent submitted forged certificates to INEC’ -YPP to PDP
The Akwa Ibom State governorship election petition tribunal on Saturday May 27, 2023 reserved its ruling on the two preliminary objections filed by counsel to Governor Umo Eno, and the People Democratic Party (PDP) against the petition by Sen Bassey Albert and his Young Progressives Party (YPP).
The legal team defending the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno (2nd defendant) led by Paul Usoro (SAN) had on May 21, 2023 filed preliminary objection urging the tribunal to strike out the petition filed by Sen Bassey Albert Akpan and YPP on the grounds that the facts in support of their petition is incompetent. Again, that the petition is a pre election matter.
The objection is supported by 3 exhibits: the judgement of the Federal High Court Uyo, that of the Court of Appeal, and the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case by Akan Okon against Pastor Umo Eno.
Attached thereto is a seven paragraph affidavit sworn by Rt Hon Aniekan Akpan. The respondent insisted that the matter has been rested by the supreme court and is therefore incompetent before the tribunal.
On its part, the PDP as the 3rd respondent also filled a preliminary objection against the petition. Adumbrating on the PDP’s objection, Atoyebi (SAN) emphasized that the petitioner “has no basis to institute the petition.”
He insisted that the petitioner “having been tried and convicted of offences bordering on dishonesty in line with section 182(2)(c) of the constitution which disqualifies him from standing election”, cannot institute a petition.
Counsel queried, “if he is not qualified in the first place to stand election, how can he file a petition?”
He elaborated that section 182(2)d of the 1999 constitution as amended, which OBA is seeking cover “did not mention “appeal” as a wide jacket.”
“It specifically mentioned appeal in respect of bankruptcy, not someone who has been tried, convicted and sentenced on grounds of dishonesty,” he explained.
Here is section 182(2)d:
“adjudged or declared bankrupt, an appeal against the decision is pending in any court of law in accordance with any law in force in Nigeria, subsection (1) of this section shall not apply during a period begining from the date when such appeal is lodged and ending on the date when the appeal is finally determined or, as the case may be, the appeal lapses or is abandoned, whichever is earlier.”
Ahmed Raji (SAN) – lead counsel to the petitioners, argued in his counter affidavit and adumbration, that “section 182 is clear that while appeal is pending any person convicted can stand election and file petition.”
At this juncture the chairman of the panel interjected with the question, “does the appeal act as a stay of execution?” His response was “yes”.
He urged the tribunal to dismiss the preliminary objection because the petition has raised new issues such as the submission of forged documents to INEC as against submission to the party which the three exhibits (judgements) decided.
The tribunal chaired by Justice A. A. Adeleye ruled that ruling on the preliminary objections will be delivered along with the substantive judgement.