Soon after the Wednesday 24 June sitting of the Akwa Ibom Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, there has been a lot of false and misleading reports ditching out to unsuspected members of the public on the position or ruling of the tribunal on various applications filed by both the PDP and the APC by agents of the All Progressive Congress to deceive the public by giving them false information while keeping away the truth.
With all these falsehoods propagated by the agents of APC, one can easily conclude that the party thrives on false propaganda without basic elements of truth in them. They fabricated these screaming headlines; Umana wins Udom round one, Umana floors Udom at the tribunal. These were the many false headline stories that dominated the social and print media soon after the Wednesday 24 tribunal sitting in Abuja. But this was never the true position of things about what happen at the tribunal and it ruling.
The various false reports dominating the social and print media by the agents of the opposition All Progressive Congress in Akwa Ibom State was the figment of the imagination of those who were not even at the court but solely relied on the concocted and fabricated falsehood of APC agents who are desperate in getting victory through manipulated court process in the election they did not win. Human wisdom mingled with law.
The recent happenings in the state and country has portrayed the APC as a party founded and build on falsehood, lies starting from the centre. The party is also being presented to Nigerians and indeed the peace loving people of Akwa Ibom state as a party of confusion and contradictions not representing the positive change they claimed to preach during elections. Recently, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC was quoted as saying that the President who is of the APC is not the National Leader of the party but Tinubu. Last week, the same party was also quoted as saying that President Buhari is the National Leader of the party. What a contradicted and confused forum?
Back to the main point; today the APC has accepted the fact that there was an election in Akwa Ibom state on the 11 April 2015 which they participated and lost, but before now they denied that there was no election in Akwa Ibom state. What a contradiction and confusion? Because they could not win at the polls, they have resorted to claiming victory to themselves on any application ruled in their favour by the tribunal whether it has any significant benefit to them or not. That was how they claimed victory of the 2015 governorship election before the polls. This is a clear case of concert of fools in their paradise. They are imagining to themselves that the tribunal will give them victory in the election they did not win, work for or deserve victory. What a shame!
What actually happened at the tribunal on Wednesday 24 June 2015 was that the tribunal was very magnanimous in granting the APC prayer on the extension of time to allow them conduct an inspection on the materials used in the conduct of the governorship election they now admitted that actually took place in Akwa Ibom state. But the other prayers by the APC lead counsel Wole Olanipekun that the tribunal should order the movement of the 2015 governorship election materials from Uyo the state capital to the tribunal premises at Maitama in Abuja for the inspection was overruled by the chairman of the tribunal and rejected by the PDP lead Counsel, Paul Usoro SAN, who argued that the election materials cannot be custody by any other body apart from INEC which is in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
After entertaining the argument of Chief Paul Usoro SAN, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Sadiq Umar ordered that the election materials used in the conduct of the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Akwa Ibom state be moved from Uyo to the INEC headquarters in Abuja within 10 days to allow the petitioner access them, but not at the tribunal premises as requested by the APC.
In Akwa Ibom state, some media proprietors are used to pre-empting the court in such a way that even when the court have not yet decided, some people will report that the court has already decide, and the people will take it to be true because it is reported by the media. But the media has not in any way reciprocated the confidence and trust invested in them by these unsuspected members of the public who rely solely on them for information. They see it as an avenue to extort the public who depend on them by fabricating falsehood to the public which they read and form their opinion based on what has been reported without really investigating the subject matter to know if it is true or not. The media proprietors for one reason or another, either to satisfy their sponsors and pay masters or to make good profits from the sales of their Newspapers have resorted to playing on the intelligence and sensibility of Akwa Ibom people who are always after bad news instead of the good and developmental ones.
The false information that was fabricated by the APC agents who are desperate of victory and send across various media houses was widely reported that the tribunal has ruled that it sitting will remain in Abuja and conduct its business as against the application by the PDP that there was no bases or justifiable reason for the relocation of the tribunal to Abuja, called for return of the tribunal to Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital as stipulated in the Constitution and the Electoral Act since there has not been any evidence violence or reported threat to lives of the tribunal members.
The truth of the matter is that the tribunal never ruled that it will remain in Abuja as speculated and fabricated in some sections of the media, but ruling on the return of the tribunal to Uyo the state capital was reserved for another day to be communicated to the two contending parties as against the false report that it has been resolved that the tribunal will remain in Abuja. As it is now, the PDP has approached the appeal court challenging the legibility and legality of the tribunal to move from Uyo to Abuja which is contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Constitution. The constitution is very clear on this matter which only empowered the tribunal to move from one location to another within the state but not completely out of the state where the election took place. It is very clear that with the self-imposed movement of the tribunal from Uyo to Abuja without following due process has rendered the tribunal illegitimate and incapable for now until a court of competent jurisdiction decides otherwise the legality and legitimacy of the tribunal to adjudicate on the matter in Abuja.
For now, the order of the tribunal for INEC to move electoral materials to FCT whose legality to sit in Abuja has not yet been decided is likely not to be honoured by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC for now because of the pending court case by the PDP against the tribunal whose legality for now is in doubt or dispute. Even though the appeal court may decide that the tribunal should remain in Abuja, it is important to note here that the case will move to the Supreme Court who also have jurisdiction to entertain the matter and decide whether or not the tribunal should remain in Abuja.
The APC lawyers sought an order directing INEC to move the election materials to the tribunal’s secretariat in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court at Maitama, Abuja which the tribunal rejected the application through the brilliant argument of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s lead counsel Adegboyega Awomolo who vehemently opposed the application on the ground that it was filed out of the time stipulated by the Electoral Act.
Awomolo argued that the application was defective because he had filed a motion challenging the directive for moving the tribunal from Uyo to Abuja which has not yet been decided. But the question of jurisdiction of the tribunal to stay in Abuja and decide the Akwa Ibom 2015 governorship election is currently under a serious contention.
Meanwhile a legal luminary in the state and immediate past Senior Special Assistant to the immediate past Governor of the state on Legal and Documentation, Barr Aniefiok Dennis Akpan has given some insight on the laws and constitutional provisions in respect to the movement of election petition tribunal from one location to another, and the extent by which the tribunal eligibility challenge by the PDP can go.
Barr Dennis Akpan who is currently representing Etinan State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and Deputy Leader of the House said that although the tribunal has the power to move it sitting from on location to another within the state, it therefore has no power or jurisdiction on its own as it was the case to move itself from Uyo the state capital to Abuja which is outside the tribunal jurisdiction to try the matter.
He disclosed that the tribunal has granted PDP the opportunity to file an appeal on the tribunal ruling that the electoral materials should be move to Abuja the INEC headquarters which has already been filed by the PDP. The lawmaker maintained that PDP has also filed a suit challenging the legality of the tribunal to move from Uyo the state capital to FCT which has not yet been decided.
Based on all these court cases against the tribunal and it Wednesday 24 June 2015 ruling that INEC should move all the electoral materials from the commission headquarters in Uyo to the National headquarters of the commission in Abuja, he said it is likely that INEC may not comply with the directive of the tribunal immediately but will wait to see the outcome of the two court cases against the tribunal and it ruling.
Barr Dennis Akpan also said that even though the case is ruled that the tribunal should remain in Abuja, the PDP will take the matter to Supreme Court to decide on the legality of the tribunal to move from Uyo where it was inaugurated on its own to Abuja without complying with the laws establishing the tribunal and the constitution or follow due process.
It is important to remind these desperate agents of APC that propaganda has never will election but truth, and so will fabrication of lies and will never secure victory for the APC at the tribunal no matter how they spread the falsehood. The present administration has shown good signs of purposeful leadership and good governance, these impressive strides that has been noticed in Governor Udom Emmanuel administration since he took over the mantle of leadership on the 29, May 2015 should be commended by all and be encouraged to continue instead of unnecessary blackmails and opposition against development.
Every citizen of this state must remember that whether they are in the opposition or ruling party, all are yearning for better lives through good governance. Election and politicking is over, it’s time for governance; irrespective of party lines and affiliations, the governor should be allow to focus and concentrate on the task of delivering good governance he promised the people during campaign. The people of this state owe Governor Udom Emmanuel administration a duty to encourage and support the good works the governor has started to continue that this state may prosper.