The Court of Appeal in Abuja has dismissed the Appeal filed by Mr Akan Okon against the victory of Pastor Umo Eno, governorship candidate of the party in Akwa Ibom State.
The court upheld the judgment of the lower court, presided over by the Justice Agatha Okeke, that the case by the said Mr Okon lacked merit.
The three man panel in the judgment delivered unanimously, held that Pastor Umo Eno was the duly nominated candidate of the PDP having scored 993 votes as against a paltry three scored by the petitioner.
It maintained that Mr Okon failed to prove beyond reasonable doubts, his case challenging the eligibility of Pastor Eno as well as his allegations of forgery against the PDP candidate.
However the fine of 15m was reduced to N5m, as the court argued that the two parties are members of the same party and were children of the same party, PDP who can still work together.
The court noted that the respondents failed to file their briefs timely before the court but maintained that despite the failure of the respondents to file a reply or brief of arguments, the appeal must still be meritorious before it can be upheld.
The Appeal Court held that the burden of proving the criminal allegation is on the petitioner and that Akan Okon failed to prove that Pastor Umo Eno forged his certificates.
The court said it was funny that the appellant who was not a member of the group known as Movement for the Advancement of Democracy in Nigeria, nor a staff of WAEC yet presented a document purportedly issued to the group by WAEC as evidence in court.
On arguments by Mr Okon that the lower court failed to allow the subpoenaed witnesses of the respondents to testify, the Appeal court also held that the lower court was right to have accepted the evidences of subpoenaed witnesses from the West African Examinations Council, and the Ministry of Justice, without allowing them to testify since they were subpoenaed by subpoena duces tecum.
The appeal court also upheld the decision of the lower court to ignore the report of the forensic expert brought by the appellant, saying it was within the discretion of the court.
Akan Okon who was earlier in court left before the judgment commenced. His senior counsel were not present and he was represented by Barr A. Okoroafor.
The counsel to the PDP governorship candidate were Paul Usoroh, SAN , Muyiwa Atoyebi, SAN, and Uwemedimoh Nwoko, SAN.