The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Monday adopted the ruling of the Appeal Court, which discountenanced an application the Tribunal had earlier granted for amendment in favour of the Petitioner, Kufre Alex Akpabio of the APC.
The tribunal had earlier ruled in support of an amendment in Kufre Akpabio’s petition, in which he sought to amend his petition after he had address the Federal Constituency as Eket Federal Constituency instead of Eket, Esit Eket, ONNA and Ibeno Federal Constituency.
The three member Tribunal panel was briefed of the development by Hon. Patrick Ifon through his Counsel, Solomon Umoh SAN, that he appealed the ruling of the Tribunal, which allowed the Petitioners to amend “Eket Federal Constituency” to “Eket/Esit Eket/ONNA/Ibeno Federal Constituency” in their petition.
According to Umoh, “The Court of Appeal saw the amendment that was granted to the Petitioners by this Tribunal. They said the amendment granted them ought not to have been granted and they had set aside the amendment ruling”.
Umoh furthered “My lords, setting aside the amended petition has taken away life from it. It automatically gives life to the first petition and everything that was based on the dismissed petition should be extinguished. All processes filed in pursuant to the amended petition should not be valid”
Responding, Counsel to the Petitioner, Christopher Ekpo Esq. argued that previous proceedings were based on Petitioner’s original Witnesses’ Depositions filed on March 16, 2019, which was done before amendment of the Petition.
Ekpo however asked that the previous petition be allowed for further hearing.
Reacting, the Tribunal Chairman cautioned Ekpo, to use the right words in his prayers.
“Mr. Ekpo, if any Counsel sitting next to you is whispering what you are saying to you, I am sure you know you would only end up on the wrong side. We do not have time here and you should use the right words for your prayers. I thought you are a gentleman,” The Tribunal Chairman said
Ekpo apologised “I’m sorry My lords. I respectfully pray and in humility that hearing should be allowed to continue as though the amendment never happened”.
Umoh insisted that the Petitioners should formally strike out depositions filed in pursuant to the amended petition and adopt their previous petition for proceedings.
Ekpo in response applied that witness depositions filed on July 9, 2019 in pursuant with their amended petition should be struck out, adding that they’ve adopted their previous Petition for proceedings.
Ruling, the Tribunal Chairman, Justice A. W. Akanbi said “the only saving grace is that the deposition used in the proceedings were those filed on March 16, 2019 not July 9, 2019.
This tribunal hereby strikes out witnesses statement on oath filed on July 9, 2019, which has been set aside with the amended petition by the Court of Appeal”.
The Tribunal Chairman thanked all Counsel for their cooperation and called for adjournment till Tuesday, July 20, 2019 for close of defence by 2nd-4th Respondents.