Supreme Court upholds Udom Emmanuel’s election as Akwa Ibom Governor

Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel

The Supreme Court has upheld the election of Udom Emmanuel of the Peoples Democratic Party as governor of the oil-rich Akwa Ibom State.

The court gave the ruling validating the April 11 governorship election on Wednesday night but did not provide reasons for its judgment.

The court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal, which nullified Mr. Udom’s election.

The Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Udom of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, won the lawfully cast votes in the April 11, 2015 election.

Full details of the ruling would be provided on a February 15, the court said.

Background

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had on December 18 nullified the Akwa Ibom State governorship election of April 11, removing Mr. Emmanuel, from office.

Mr. Emmanuel’s election was challenged by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Umana Umana.

At the election tribunal, Mr. Emmanuel of the Peoples Democratic Party, had secured partial victory, with the election cancelled only in 18 out of the state’s 31 local government areas.

The tribunal had ordered a rerun.

Mr. Emmanuel had challenged the ruling, insisting he won in all 31 LGAs.

The APC candidate, Mr. Umana, also appealed against the ruling, seeking a total nullification of the election.

But a five-man panel at the Court of Appeal dismissed Mr. Emmanuel’s argument, and cancelled the entire election.

The appeal court had said the tribunal was wrong in its refusal to comply with section 179 (2) of the Constitution.

The court said having agreed with the evidence of principal witnesses, video evidence, and evidence from state collation agents, the tribunal should have concluded that there was no collation and that votes were merely allotted.

“The question is, if there was no collation, can there be said to be an election,” the court asked. “Indeed where there was no collation of election, there cannot be said to be an election.”

The tribunal was wrong in failing to nullify the entire election, the court ruled, setting aside the judgement of the tribunal in the 13 LGAs.

“The entire election is hereby nullified. The election that brought Mr. Udom is hereby nullified,” it ruled.

The appeal court then ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct fresh election within 90 days.

That verdict has now been upturned by the Supreme Court, and Mr. Emmanuel can now breathe a sigh of relief.


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