Gov. Umo Eno
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state has thrown out the suit brought by the governorship candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, challenging the election of Pastor Umo Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
After about an hour and thirty minutes of detailed judgement on Wednesday morning, the Governorship Election Panel, in a unanimous decision concluded that the petition with suit number EPW/AKS/GOV/03/23 by Sen. Akpanudoedehe and his party against Gov Eno, the PDP and INEC deserves no less a verdict than dismissal for lacking in merit.
The governorship election petition by the former Senator followed the defective trajectory of two previous cases dismissed by the tribunal two weeks ago, by virtue of the attempt to resurrect the subject matter of certificate forgery leveled against Governor Eno, which was previously buried by the Supreme Court.
Counsel to the PDP had told the tribunal that the petition was “most unambitious”, as the petitioners neglected and or refused to declare what they really wanted.
Sen. Akpanudoedehe had in his arguments claimed that Gov. Eno was a convict by the Wuse Magistrate Court, Abuja, thereby robbing him of the qualification to have contested the March 18, 2023 governorship election.
He prayed the Tribunal to order that the election be cancelled, and a fresh one conducted within 90 days.
He also alleged that the Governor was born in Enugu, even though he declined to show proof of this claim as he neither front loaded nor relied upon any document to back it.
Surprisingly, of the over 5000 voting units in the state, the NNPP candidate called only two witnesses with himself as one of the two.
Under cross examination, the NNPP gubernatorial candidate admitted, when shown the enrolled order of the Wuse Magistrate Court repudiating its judgement orders, that he lacked knowledge of the existence of the order before his petition.
Counsel to the PDP and Pastor Eno, had noted in their submission that the NNPP petition is most unambitious, as the petitioner has not only failed to prove the criminal allegation of forgery, but also failed to state what he wants.
The tribunal, presided over by Justice Adekunle Adeleye, ruled that lacking in merit, the petition had to be confined to the trashcan.
Reacting to the judgement, Counsel to the PDP, Barr Emmanuel Enoidem told journalists that the judgement was in strong agreement with the position of the law.
Barr Enoidem said the petitioners failed to prove that Pastor Eno did not meet the constitutional entry requirements for office of the Governor, adding that most of their claims were pre-election matters which they could not also substantiate.