By Sunday Isan, Uyo
The Federal High Court 2, sitting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital has nullified the 2015 Senatorial elections for Uyo Senatorial District (Akwa Ibom North-east).
In its judgment delivered on Monday, the court held that Senator Bassey Albert was not eligible to stand in the election.
A former House of Representatives member for Uyo Federal Constituency, Elder Bassey Etim, had approached the court with allegation that Albert colluded with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to wrongly substitute his name.
He argued that Senator Albert never stood for the December 2014 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senatorial primary, adding that the former Commissioner for Finance in only worked with INEC and other PDP officials to expunge his name and replaced it with his own.
He, therefore, asked the court to nullify the poll and declare him as the authentic candidate for the election.
In the two hour judgment delivered by Justice Fatun Riman, the prayers were upheld on Monday and Senator Albert was asked to immediately vacate the seat for Etim.
Riman, who awarded N200,000 charge against Senator Albert, asked the Senate leadership to immediately swear in Etim, as the duly elected Senator for Akwa Ibom North-east Senatorial seat.
Besides, the Court ordered INEC to immediately issue Certificate of Return (C-of-R), to Etim, even as the embattled Senator was asked to refund all entitlements accrued to him during period as Senator, to Etim.
Counsel to Etim, Mr. Taiwo Abe, hailed the judgment as “victory for democracy”, assuring that the merit of the case would sustain the victory up to the Supreme Court.
His words: “We now have a new Senator for Akwa Ibom North-east Senatorial District and the person is Elder Bassey Etim. All parties must abide by the decision until it is set aside by the appellate Court.”
Counsel to the defendant, Mr. Offiong Offiong (SAN), rejected the outcome, saying he would return to the drawing board to consult with his client on the next line of action.
Offiong said: “I am not satisfied and I need also to speak with my client because the case belongs to him. If my clinet is not also satisfied, then the next option is to appeal.”