Thursday, April 24, 2014

Appeal against ruling validating Governor Akpabio’s election begins February 27


The Court of Appeal will hear the case on February 27.

Barely 48 hours after surviving an attempt to get his election nullified, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, on Friday received notice that the Court of Appeal in Abuja is ready to commence hearing on the appeal filed against the September 14, 2012 ruling of an Abuja Federal High Court dismissing another petition against his election.

The High Court in Uyo had on Thursday dismissed the petition by Imo Udo, one of the aspirants in the April 2011 gubernatorial primaries in State, describing his application as lacking in merit.

Last year, Mr. Udo’s application seeking to join as co-defendant in the suit instituted by Frank Okon against the governor was similarly dismissed by Justice Abdul Kafarati, who went ahead to deliver a judgment that is the subject of an appeal whose notice was served on Friday.

Frank Okon, one of the aspirants in the April 2011 gubernatorial primaries in the state, had filed the petition seeking the decision of the court to nullify the re-run primaries held on January 15, 2011 on whose outcome Mr. Akpabio was returned as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s flag bearer in the election.

Mr. Okon had asked the court for the restitution of his fundamental human right he claimed was breached. He said the PDP failed to give him the mandatory seven days notice before the rescheduled primaries as required by the party’s constitution.

The petitioner had also contested the conduct and outcome of the controversial primaries on the ground that the PDP committed fraud by forging the signature of its former National Chairman, Okwesilieze Nwodo, on the result sheet submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, despite that Mr. Nwodo was removed from office by a court in Enugu more than 72 hours before the primaries.

However, Justice Abdul Kafarati in its judgment had ruled that the petitioner was unknown in law to possess the legal capacity to challenge its outcome, since he had accepted that he never participated in the primaries by virtue of his alleged exclusion.

Consequently, Mr. Kafarati, who dismissed the case for lack of merit and want of jurisdiction, awarded N50, 000 cost against Mr. Okon for each of the first and second respondents (Mr. Akpabio and PDP respectively), and N100, 000 for the third respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Mr. Okon’s legal team, which rejected the ruling, alleging an “obvious miscarriage of justice” against its client, had given notice of its preparedness to proceed on appeal.

Notice of appeal No CA/A/554/12 dated February 1, 2013 and addressed to Mr. Okon’s legal counsel reads: “Take notice that the above mentioned motion, Appeal/Judgment has been listed for hearing before the Court of Appeal, Abuja sitting at Three Arms Zone, PMB 322, Central District Area, Cadastral Zone, AO, Court of Appeal Complex, on Wednesday the 27th day of February, 2013 at Nine O’clock in the morning.

The respondents in the case are Mr. Akpabio, the PDP in Akwa Ibom state and INEC.

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