There were jubilations on Friday in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, over the cancellation of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s election by the Court of Appeal, Abuja.
The Court of Appeal on Friday nullified the April 11 governorship election which produced Mr. Emmanuel of the Peoples Democratic Party as governor of the oil-rich state.
Hundreds of supporters of the All Progressives Congress poured into major streets in the city as soon as they heard the news of the Court of Appeal judgment.
They sang solidarity songs as they marched through major streets of the capital city.
APC flags were hoisted on several vehicles in the city.
At Obio Imo Street, the former chairman of Uyo Local Government Area, Ekerete Ekpenyong, led a crowd of APC supporters in a celebratory march that disrupted traffic for more than one hour.
Mr. Ekpenyong was among former local council chairmen who decamped from the PDP to the APC after completing their tenure.
At the popular ‘maitama’, the entrance to Ewet Housing Estate, some youths held a brief procession to celebrate the APC victory.
They went round ‘maitama’ beating drums, singing and dancing, before ending the procession at Akwa Ibom Renaissance’s office within the estate where they were received by the chairman of the Renaissance, Anthony Bassey.
“The judgment is God’s special Christmas gift to the people of Akwa Ibom State,” Mr. Bassey told PREMIUM TIMES.
“We thank God for it. We thank President Muhammadu Buhari and the national leadership of APC for the support they have given so far to Umana Okon Umana.”
Mr. Bassey said the APC was sure to win a free and fair governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.
At Ibom Plaza, regarded as the heart of Uyo, young men and women gathered to celebrate the APC governorship candidate, Mr. Umana.
The crowd at the plaza spilled over into Ibom roundabout, while some policemen from the A Division Police Station, along Wellington Bassey Way, stood by to closely monitor the situation.
It was 6: 40pm. It was getting dark by the day. And the crowd at the plaza kept increasing.
One senior police officer told PREMIUM TIMES he was searching for any APC leader who could persuade the crowd at the plaza to go home to prevent the situation from becoming violent.
But one APC member, Jumbo Usen, who was at the plaza to witness the celebration told the police officer, “The people here are only expressing their happiness over the court judgment and even if they stay here till midnight they will never be disorderly.”
Mr. Usen turned around, and said to the PREMIUM TIMES reporter, “You can see how happy they are. The celebration tonight tells you how unpopular Udom Emmanuel is among the people.”
Governor Emmanuel has however vowed to go to the Supreme Court to challenge the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
The Commissioner for Justice, Akwa Ibom State, Uwemedimo Nwoko, told reporters in Abuja about the governor’s decision after the Court of Appeal delivered its judgment.
Mr. Nwoko said, “I have just interacted with His Excellency, and he is in high spirit, undaunted and ready to continue his impactful leadership in delivering democracy dividends to the people.”
The Commissioner for Information in the state, Aniekan Umanah, told PREMIUM TIMES the governor spoke in Abuja with some Akwa Ibom people, and that he told them not to be worried about the Court of Appeal judgment.
“There’s no cause to worry,” Mr. Umanah said. “We will go to the Supreme Court to challenge the judgment.
“And of course, if the election is conducted again and again in Akwa Ibom state, there is nothing to suggest that APC can win in the state.”
The Co-ordinator, PDP Fan Club, Akwa Ibom State, Endurance Johnson, said President Buhari should be held responsible for the defeat of Governor Emmanuel at the Court of Appeal.
“It is a season of win all by the APC,” Mr. Johnson told PREMIUM TIMES. “Desperation has become the order of the day and the judiciary has been ridiculed by President Buhari.”
Mr. Johnson added that although he was devastated by the Court of Appeal judgment, he was sure the PDP would win at the Supreme Court.
“Yes it is temporary (victory for APC) because the Supreme Court will sing a different song. That aside, the APC will fail if the re-run is finally held,” he said.
A member of Mr. Umana’s legal team, Victor Iyanam, told PREMIUM TIMES the decision of the Supreme Court would not be different from that of the Appeal Court, and that the APC was ready to meet the PDP at the appellate court.
“The (Court of Appeal) judgment is standing on the rock of Gibraltar,” Victor Iyanam said. “It is unshakable. It is a useless effort for PDP to go to Supreme Court. I am sure they are just bidding for time so they could get two months federal allocations to the state.”