In the Governorship Election Appeal with respect to Akwa Ibom State
On Wednesday, 3rd February, 2016, the full panel of the Supreme Court which sat to consider the appeal of Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel and others against the decision of the Court of Appeal
which had earlier nullified the election, reverse the decision and affirmed the Governor as having been duly elected. Monday, 15th February, 2016 is the date the Supreme Court will give reasons for its decision.
However, against the backdrop of its decision in the case of MAHMUD ALIYU SHINKAFI & 1 OR v. ABDULAZEEZ ABUBAKAR YARI & 2 ORS; SC/907/2015 delivered on 8th January, 2016 (pages 29-33)(unreported) and that of DAVE UMAHI & ORS v. EDWARD OKEREKE & ORS; SC/1004/2015 (unreported), certain threshold for proving electoral irregularities or non-compliance with the Electoral Act were set. I will quote them extenso-and try to marry them vis-Ã -vis the case of Akwa Ibom State, in order to see if the set threshold were fully met or reached in the case of Akwa Ibom State. I will also attempt to distinguish the circumstances of those cases with that of Akwa Ibom State.
MAHMUD ALIYU SHINKAFI v. ABDULAZEEZ ABUBAKAR YARI (SC/907/2015)
In the lead judgment delivered by His Lordship Justice John Okoro Jsc, the learned Jurist had this to say at page 29-33
â€œâ€¦ My understanding of the function of the Card Reader Machine is to authenticate the owner of a Voterâ€™s card and to prevent multi-voting by a voter. I am not aware that the Card Reader Machine has replaced the Voterâ€™s Register or taken the place of Statement of Result in appropriate forms. As it stands, it appears that the Appellants did not lead any evidence to prove over-voting. The findings of the court below on the issue can be found on page 1127 of the recordâ€¦â€
Justice Okoro continued:
â€œTo prove over-voting, the law is trite that the Petitioner must tender the votersâ€™ register. The court must also see the Statement of results in the appropriate forms which would show the numbers of registered accredited voters and must also relate each of the documents to the specific area of the case in respect of which documents were tendered and that an appellant must also show that figures, representing over-voting, if removed, would result in victory for the petitionerâ€.
â€œâ€¦ There is no doubt that a Petitioner is entitled to contend that an election or return in an election be invalidated by reasons of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. For a Petitioner to succeed on this ground, he has to prove:
(i) That the corrupt practice or non-compliance took place;
(ii) That the corrupt practice or non-compliance substantially affected the result of the election.
â€œThere is need for a Petitioner who alleges over-voting to lead concrete evidence to show that there was indeed over-voting and that it inured to the winner of the contest. Without doubt, over-voting in an election can be in favour of either the Appellant, the Respondents or other contestants who participated and lost out at the election but are not parties to the petition. Therefore, the onus is on the Petitioner to show that the over-voting was in favour of the Respondent and that it was as a result of the over-voting that the 1st Respondent won the election. This is why the law requires the Petitioner to lead evidence right from the polling unit in order to show that the alleged over-voting was solely to the advantage of the Respondent.â€
In the Shinkafiâ€™s case quoted above His Lordship, Justice Okoro, JSC provided the threshold that must be met. He emphasized that for a Petitioner to properly succeed in proving corrupt practices, non-compliance and over-voting, he must prove through credible evidence the following:
That the corrupt practice or non-compliance took place;
2. That the corrupt practices or non-compliance substantially affected the result;
3. That there was indeed over-voting and that it inured to the winner of the contest.
4. That the voters register must be tendered.
5. That the statements of results must be tendered in the appropriate forms.
6. That the Petitioner must relate each of the documents to the specific area of the case in respect of which documents were tendered.
7. That the Petitioner (or Appellant as the case may be) must also show that figures representing over-voting, if removed would result in victory.
CASE OF DAVE UMAHI v. EDWARD OKEREKE
In the above case, the Petitioner had in his petition at the Election Tribunal, alleged non-compliance and over-voting. Both the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal dismissed the Petition on the ground that the Petitioner failed to prove his case, a decision the Supreme Court per Justice Cantus Nweze upheld on January 27, 2016. In accepting and upholding the judgments of the two courts below, Justice Nweze noted that Okereke failed woefully to prove his case. He noted that the Appellant failed to tender, along with card Reader reports, votersâ€™ register. He said Okereke failed to call witnesses from each of the voting points affected, but merely dumped results sheets from the polling units on the trial tribunal without calling the makers of the documents as witnesses.
The learned Justice of the Supreme Court then provided the requirements of the law to prove over-voting. He said:
â€œThat since the National Assembly has not deleted the provision of Section 49 of the Electoral Act (2010), which allows manual accreditation, it would be wrong for any Petitioner to seek to rely solely on the report of the Card Reader (which is intended as a supplementary measure to the already provided means of accreditation) to prove over-votingâ€.
He went further to say:
â€œEven with the introduction of the said device, that is the Card Reader machine, the National Assembly, in its wisdom, did not deem it necessary to bowdlerize the said analogue procedure in Section 49 of the Electoral Act so that the Card Reader procedure would be the sole determinant of a valid accreditation process. It stands to reason that the Card Reader was meant to supplement votersâ€™ register and was never designed or intended to supplant, displace or supercede itâ€.
â€œPut differently, what the lower court was saying, in effect, was that the Petitioner failed to prove his allegations of non-compliance because he did not tender the votersâ€™ register, statement of results in the appropriate forms, which would show the number of registered accredited voters and the number of actual voters, and he did not relate each of the documents (he tendered) to the specific areas of his case in respect of which the documents were tendered, and show that the figures representing the over-voting, if removed, would result in his victory â€¦â€
In the above case of Okereke, learned Justice Nweze again put forward and affirmed legal procedures required to prove non-compliance and over-voting, just as Justice Okoro did and these are set out below:
(a) The Petitioner must tender the voterâ€™s register;
(b) He must tender the statement of results in the appropriate form which would show the number of accredited voters and the number of actual voters;
(c) The Petitioner must relate each of the documents (he tendered) to the specific areas of his case in respect of which the documents were tendered; and
(d) He must show that the figures representing the over-voting, if removed, would result in his victory.
Before going into detailed analyses of those requirements, it is worth noting here that both Justice Okoro and Justice Nweze did not say the card reader ought not to be used during the elections, no, but rather in the words of Justice Okoro, he said:
â€œMy understanding of the function of the card reader machine is to authenticate the owner of a voterâ€™s card and to prevent multi voting by a voterâ€.
As for Justice Nweze, he said:
â€œThe card reader is intended as a supplementary measure to the already provided means of accreditationâ€.
In other words, the card reader machine is meant for use to complement the voters register but not to supplant, displace and supercede it. With the use of the word â€œsupplementaryâ€, I have looked through the meaning of the word in many dictionaries and these are a few of what I got:
Completing or enhancing something (adj.)
Important part of something or just extra support. The word supplement comes from the Latin word supplementum, which means (something added to fix a deficiency) and the suffix â€“ ary means â€œconnected withâ€.
The free dictionary defines supplementary as something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency or extend or strengthen the whole.
Another dictionary defines supplementary as something that is added on, or that completes something. For example, a supplementary examination, is an additional examination (or other form of assessment) that may be approved for a student to properly assess his performance.
I believe it is with these in mind that prompted His Lordships to say what they said about the Card Reader. Thus, the card reader report cannot just be wished away. It makes up for the deficiency of manual accreditation and strengthens the whole exercise.
Relevant too at this point is the question as to what elements constitute election? The Supreme Court case of INEC v. RAY (2005) ALL FWLR (PART 26) 1047 (2004) 14 NWLR (PART 892) 92 serves as a guiding factor. The court said at pages 1071 â€“ 1072.
â€œIt is trite in law that the concept of â€œelectionâ€ denotes a process constituting accreditation, voting, collation, recording on all relevant INEC forms and declaration of results. The collation of all results of the polling units making up the wards and the declaration of results are the constitutuent elements of an election as known to lawâ€.
The above definition was captured in the judgment of Salami PCA in the court of Appeal case of FAYEMI v. ONI (2010) 17 NWLR (PART 1222) 326 AT 388. It is thus clear and potent that accreditation is at the foot of elections, or if you like at the head of the electionâ€™s pyramid. If accreditation is faulty or a farce, then there can be no proper election known to law. Again, if the votes cast at an election are more than the number of votersâ€™ accredited, then the result of such an election is a nullity. The presumption of regularity cannot therefore be ascribed to such an election. You cannot place something on nothing and expect it to stand.
Having said the above, let us now relate same to the case put forward by Umana Okon Umana and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in their petition and show it is necessary for the Supreme Court to re-appraise their judgment and if possible reverse itself. I will attempt to situate my submissions based on the barometer set out by the Supreme Court in the Shinkafi and Okerekeâ€™s case.
THAT THE CORRUPT PRACTICE OR NON-COMPLIANCE TOOK PLACE
In Akwa Ibom case, the Petitioners, Umana Okon Umana and the All Progressives Congress pleaded that based on the card reader polling unit by polling report (Exhibit 317), the total number of voters accredited to vote in the entire 2982 polling units was 437,128. They also showed through the testimony of PW 49 who spoke to the polling unit by polling unit votersâ€™ register already tendered as Exhibits 13A â€“ 313B that only 448,307 names were ticked as having been accredited in the Voters register. It must be emphasized here and it is on record that the voters register was not willingly released to the Petitioners else the figure 448,307 was not captured in the pleadings. It was only given to them following an order of the Tribunal and the enumeration of the numbers ticked was done through PW49, a witness who was called as additional witness pursuant to an Order of the Tribunal.
In order to prove non-compliance and over-voting the Petitioners pleaded and tendered form EC8A in all the 2982 polling unit as Exhibits A1-AC10. They pleaded and tendered form EC8B in all the 329 wards as Exhibit CC1-11110. They pleaded and tendered form EC8C in all the 31 LGAs and finally they pleaded Form EC8D which tabulates all the results including the supposedly total number of accredited voters as Exhibit EEEE1 and also the total number of votes cast, wherein it showed that whereas only 437,128 voters (as in card reader report ) or 448,307 voters (as in the voters register) were accredited, a whooping figure of 1,222,836 were recorded in Form EC8D as the total figures of votes allegedly cast in the election.
When it is appreciated that in an election known to law, the number of voters accredited must not be less than the number of votes cast, it becomes clear as day light that a case of improper or non-accreditation of voters had taken place, thus over-voting as pleaded by the petitioners has been made and established on the face of the documentary evidence tendered and admitted by the Tribunal.
The next question then would be, what is the consequence of over-voting. For one, over-voting as recorded on all the Forms EC8 series bereft the entire sets of documents the presumption of regularity as the documents have been shown to be irregular, fake and make-belief. Second, by the provisions of Section 53(1)(2) of the Electoral Acts (2010), those results ought to and should be declared void and the election based on them nullified. Section 53(1)(2) states as follows:
â€œNo voter shall vote for more than one candidate or record more than one vote in favour of any candidate at any one election.
Where the votes cast at an election in any polling unit exceed the number of registered voters in that polling unit, the result of the election for that polling unit shall be declared void by the commission and another election may be conducted at a date to be fixed by the commission â€¦â€
In Akwa Ibom State, there was a sum total over-voting of over 670,000 votes and this happened in all the polling units as recorded by the card reader report (Exhibit 317), the ticks on the voters register vis-Ã -vis the number of votes recorded in Forms EC8A, EC8B, EC8C and EC8D. The polling units by polling units and wards by wards analysis of these over-voting was tendered and admitted in court as Exhibits 336 (1-15). It is worthy of note here that all the findings of irregularities were made on the voters register and the electoral forms EC8A, EC8B, EC8C and EC8D. Thus, it is abundantly clear that even on the issue of over-voting alone, the election ought to be nullified and a fresh election ordered. The evidential burden of explaining away the excess 670,000 votes rest squarely on INEC and this, they failed to do.
(b) Alteration and Mutilations of figures on Electoral Forms
The petitioners demonstrated through evidences of Petitionerâ€™s witnesses and Defence witnesses that there were massive multiple and unexplained cases of alterations and mutilations of figures in the results and collation forms and highlighted these in their addresses as follows:
1. UYO: (EXH. QQ1-QQ11)
(a) One Joseph Okon Peter signed Form EC8B in six wards, that is 1, 3, 4, 6, 10 and 11.
(b) One Samuel Efiok Edem signed Form EC8B in three wards, 5, 7 and 9. Also signed Form EC8C as Local Government Collation Agent.
(c) All the signature of Joseph Okon Peter is dated 12/04/2015 whereas the said result is said to have been collated on 11/04/2015.
(d) Alteration and mutilation of figures in (Etoi I Ward 4); (Uyo Urban 2, Ward 02); (Etoi II, Ward 5); (Oku II, Ward 02); (Ikono II, Ward 09); (Uyo Urban 1, Ward 01); (Offot 1, Ward 06), (Offot II, Ward 07).
ITU (EXH. LLI-LL9)
(a) One Hon. Effiong O. Ebong signed Form EC8B in all the wards, that is, Wards 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 10. He also signed Form EC8C as Local Government Collation Agent.
(b) Alteration and mutilation of figures in (West Itam II, Ward 09), (East Itam II, Ward 04); (East Itam V, Ward 07) (East Itam Ward 05).
MKPAT ENIN: (EXH. XX1-XX14)
(a) One Barr. Jerry Akpan signed Form EC8B in all 14 wards: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 and 14.
(b) Alteration and mutilation of figures in (Ikpa Ikono III Ward 14), (Ikpa Ibom IV, Ward 08); (Ibiaku II, Ward 10)
IBENO (II1 â€“ II10)
(a) One Peter Samuel Akpan signed Form EC8B in (Ibeno VII Ward 07); (Ibeno VIII Ward 08)
(b) One Ndem E. Ndem was Ward Collation officer (INEC staff) in Ibeno III, Ward 03 and Ibeno VIII, Ward 08)
(c) One High Chief Williams Henry Mkpa signed Form EC8B as Ward Agent in six wards 1,3,4,5,6 and 10 as well as Form EC8C as Local Government Agent.
(d) Alteration and Mutilation of results in Ibeno X, Ward 08, Ibeno III, Ward 03, Ibeno VIII, Ward 08, Ibeno IV Ward 04; Ibeno V, Ward 05; Ibeno VII, Ward 07, Ibeno 1, Ward 01.
ORON (EXH. VVI-VV10)
(a) One Okpe Effiong signed Form EC8B as Ward Agent in seven wads, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
(b) Barr. Bassey O. Williams signed Form EC8B in Ward 4 as Ward Agent and EC8C as Local Government Collation Agent.
(c) Alteration and mutilation of figures in Oron Urban VIII, Ward 8; Oron Urban VIII, Ward 7, Oron Urban V, Ward 05.
IKOT ABASI: (EXH. NN1-NN10): (DDDD13)
(a) No party agent signed Form EC8B in any of the Wards, not even PDP.
(b) One Justus Ntuk signed Form EC8C as Local Government Collation Agent.
IKONO: (EXH. OO1 â€“ OO11); (DDDD 12)
(a) Alteration and multilation of figures in Form EC8B in the following wards:
(i) Ikono Middle 1, Ward 01
(ii) Ikono Middle III, Ward 03
(iii) Ediene II, Ward 10
(iv) Itak, Ward 11
(v) Ediene I, Ward 09
(vi) Ndiya/Ikot idana, Ward 08
(vii) Nkwot I, Ward 06
(viii) Nkwot II, Ward 07
(ix) Ikono South, Ward 05
(x) Ikono Middle IV, Ward 04
(xi) Ikono Middle II, Ward 02
(b) All forms EC8B and EC8C signed by PDP agents only.
UDUNG UKO: (EXH. FF1 â€“ FF9); (DDDD 27)
(a) No agent signed Form EC8B except in ward 10
(b) No agent signed Form ward 06
(c) Alteration and mutilation of figures/results in the following wards:
i) Udung Uko II, Ward 02
ii) Udung Uko VI, Ward 06
iii) Udung Uko IV, Ward 04
iv) Udung Uko III, Ward 03
v) Udung Uko V, Ward 05
vi) Udung Uko VII, Ward 07
vii) Udung Uko VIII, Ward 08
viii) Udung Uko IX, Ward 09
ix) Udung Uko I, Ward 01
ETINAN: (EXH. DDD1 â€“ DDD11)
(a) One Prince Ibanga Enoch Udofia signed Form EC8B as Ward Agent in three wards.
(i) Etinan Urban 1, Ward 01
(ii) Southern Iman III, Ward 08
(iii) Etinan Urban III, Ward 03
(b) One Unwanta A. Udofot who testified as DW 22 signed Form EC8B as Ward Agent in ward 06 (Southern Iman 1) as well as Form EC8C as Local Government Agent.
ABAK: (EXH. UU1 â€“ UU11); (DDDD 1)
(a) No agent including the so-called victorious PDP signed Form EC8B in
i) Abak Urban 1, Ward 01
ii) Abak Urban 11, Ward 02
iii) Abak Urban III, Ward 03
iv) Afaha Obont I, Ward 05
v) Afaha Obong II, Ward 6
vi) Midim II, Ward 08
vii) Otoro II, Ward 10
(b) Unilateral cancellation of results on Form EC8C (Otoro III) and replacing with new figures.
INI: (EXH. HHH1 â€“ HHH9)
(a) Those who signed as Ward Collation agents in Form EC8B different from those who deposed to witness statements claiming to be Ward agents.
i) Nkari, Ward 04 â€“ while Joseph Iseyen deposed to Witness Statement on pages 311-313 of 1st Respondents reply that he was the PDP Ward Agent, one Hon. Godwin Akpan signed Form EC8B.
ii) Odoro Ukwok Ward 09 â€“ while Gabriel Asuaiko deposed to witness statement on pages 326 â€“ 328 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply that he was the PDP ward agent, one Moses Udo Solomon signed EC8B.
iii) Iwerre, Ward 05 â€“ while Ukpai Akpan Abia deposed to witness statement on pages 314 â€“ 316 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply that he was the PDP Ward Agent, one Iboro Nse Nnah signed Form EC8B.
iv) Ikono North 2, Ward 07 â€“ while Okon Asuquo deposed to witness statement on pages 320-322 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply that he was the Ward Agent, one Ayanime Idiasen signed Form EC8B.
v) Ikpe II, Ward 02 â€“ while Richard Edikpo deposed to witness statement on pages 305-307 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply that he was the Ward Agent, one Akaninyene Ebong signed Form EC8B.
vi) Itu Mbonuso, Ward 03 â€“ while Richard Edikpo deposed to witness statement on pages 308-310 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply that he was the Ward Agent, one Ekpenyong Ransome Daniel signed Form EC8B.
vii) Ikono North III, Ward 08 â€“ while Hon. Michael Etim Ekanem deposed to witness statement on pages 323-325 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply that he was the Ward Agent, one Imoh Abam signed Form EC8B.
viii) Usuk Ukwok, Ward 10 â€“ while Chief Sunday Obiofin deposed to witness statement on pages 329-331 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply that he was the Ward Agent, one Israel Ufia Inyang signed Form EC8B.
EKET (EXH. CC1 â€“ CC11)
(a) Emman Mbong signed Form EC8B as Ward Collation Agent for Urban III, Ward 03 and Central 5, Ward 09. He also signed Form EC8C as Local Government Collation Agent.
(b) Alteration and mutilation of figures in Urban III, Ward 03; Central 1, Ward 05; Okon II, Ward II; Urban IV, Ward 04; Central III, Ward 07; Urban I, Ward 01; Central V, Ward 09.
URBAN (EXH. HH1 â€“ HH11); (DDDD29)
(a) Alteration and mutilation of figures in Southern Urban V Ward 10; Northern Uruan II, Ward 05; Southern Uruan VI Ward II, Southern Uruan III, Ward 08; Central Uruan I, Ward 01; Southern Uruan I, Ward 06; Southern Uruan IV, Ward 09; Southern Uruan II, Ward 0-7; Central Uruan II, Ward 02.
(b) Alteration and mutilation of figures in Form EC8C.
NSIT UBIUM (EXH. JJ1 â€“ JJ10)
(a) Alteration and mutilation of figures in Ubium North 1 Ward 05; Ndiya Ward 04.
ESIT EKET: (EXH. III1 â€“ III10); (DDDD4)
(a) No agent signed result, not even PDP in Ekpene Obo, Ward 03; Ebighi Okpono Ward 06; Etebi Idung Assan Ward 07
(b) Alteration and mutilation of figures in Form EC8C.
IKOT EKPENE: (EXH. GG1 â€“ GG11); (DDDD14)
(a) Mutilation of figures in Ikot Ekpene VII, Ward 07; Ikot Ekpene IX, Ward 09; Ikot Ekpene II Ward 02; Ikot Ekpene III Ward 03; Ikot Ekpene XI, Ward II; as well as in Form EC8C.
ESSIEN UDIM (EXH. FF1 â€“ FF11); (DDDD5)
(a) Alteration and mutilation of figures in Ukana East, Ward 09; Ukana West II, ward II, Odoro Ikot I, Ward 06, Adiasim, Ward 01
(b) Form EC8C â€“ alteration/mutilation of figures.
NSIT IBOM (EXH. KK1 â€“ KK10); (DDDD20)
(a) Alteration and mutilation of figures in Asang 1, Ward 01
(b) Alteration and mutilation of figures in Form EC8C
(c) Assang 1, Ward 01 â€“ while Eric Effiong Eno deposed to witness statement on pages 374-376 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply as Ward Agent, one Victor Tony Okpon signed Form EC8B.
(d) Mbiaso V, Ward 10 â€“ while Mayor Ekemini Nse deposed to witness statement on pages 401-403 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply as Ward Agent, one Clement Isong signed Form EC8B.
(e) Mbiaso VI, Ward 09 â€“ while Joshua Eyo deposed to witness statement on pages 398-400 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply as Ward Agent, one Inemesit Ubokudom signed Form EC8B.
(f) Mbiaso II, Ward 07 â€“ while Sunday Ekong deposed to witness statement on pages 392 â€“ 394 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply as Ward Agent, one Nyabuk Aniefiok signed Form EC8B.
(g) Mbiaso I, Ward 06 â€“ while Uyai J. Uyai deposed to witness statement on pages 389 â€“ 391 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply as Ward Agent, one Idongesit Bassey signed Form EC8B.
(h) Asang IV, Ward 04 â€“ while Ubong Ekong deposed to witness statement on pages 383 â€“ 385 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply as Ward Agent, one Aniebiet Isong signed Form EC8B.
(i) Asang III, Ward 03 â€“ while Nsisong Charles deposed to witness statement on pages 380 â€“ 382 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply as Ward Agent, one Nsisong Charles signed Form EC8B.
(j) Asang II, Ward 02 â€“ while Esen Umoh deposed to witness statement on pages 377 â€“ 379 of 1st Respondentâ€™s reply as Ward Agent, one Idorenyin Noah signed Form EC8B.
19. OKOBO (EXH. PP1-PP9); (DDDD 23)
(a) No agent signed Form EC8C
(b) Mutilation of figures in Form EC8C
(c) No party agents signed Form EC8B in Okopedi II, Ward 02
(d) Mutilation of results in Okopedi I, Ward 01
(e) No party Agent signed Form EC8B in
Akai/Mbukpo/Udung, Ward 05
Offi II, Ward 09
Eweme 1, Ward 06
(f) Mutilation of figures in
Offi II, Ward 09
Eweme I, Ward 06
ETIM EKPO (EXH. EE1 â€“ EE10); (DDDD6)
(a) No witness signed Form EC8B in
Etim Ekpo X Ward 10
Etim Ekpo III, Ward 03
(b) Christopher Okorie signed Form EC8C as Local Government Agent as well as Form EC8B as Ward Agent in Ward 07.
(c) Mutilation of figures and mutilation of results in Form EC8C
ONNA (EXH. ZZ1-ZZ12); (DDDD24)
(a) No agent signed Form EC8B in:
Oniong West III, Ward 12.
Oniong East III, Ward 09
Awa III, Ward 03
(b) Mutilation of figures in Form EC8C
IBESIKPO/ASUTAN (EXH. RR1 â€“ RR10); (DDDD9)
(a) Mutilation of figures on Form EC8C
(b) Ibesikpo 1, Ward 01 â€“ while Ekpo Victor Sunday deposed to witness statement on pages 242 â€“ 244 of 1st Respondent Reply as Ward Agent, one Samuel Etim Edet signed Form EC8B.
(c) Ibesikpo V Ward 5 â€“ while Hon. John Job deposed to witness statement on pages 254 â€“ 256 of 1st Respondent Reply as Ward Agent, one Victor Sunday Ekpo signed Form EC8B.
(d) Asutan I, Ward 06 â€“ while Uwem Sampson Etim deposed to witness statement on pages 254 â€“ 256 of 1st Respondent Reply as Ward Agent, one Emmanuel E. Effiom signed Form EC8B.
(e) Asutan II, Ward 07 â€“ while Etetim Wilson Ubong deposed to witness statement on pages 254 â€“ 256 of 1st Respondent Reply as Ward Agent, one Aniefiok E. Essien signed Form EC8B.
(f) Asutan IV, Ward 09 â€“ while David Anietie Christo deposed to witness statement on pages 254 â€“ 256 of 1st Respondent Reply as Ward Agent, one Etetim Ubom signed Form EC8B.
(g) Mutilation of figures in:
i) Asutan III, Ward 08
ii) Asutan V, Ward 10
iii) Ibesikpo III, Ward 03
iv) Asutan IV, Ward 09
v) Asutan II, Ward 07
vi) Asutan I, Ward 06
vii) Ibesikpo II, Ward 02
viii) Ibesikpo V, ward 05
(h) No agent signed result in Ibesikpo V, ward 5
UKANAFUN (EXH. EEE1 â€“ EEE 11)
(a) Mutilation of figures in: Southern Afaha Adat Ifang IV, Ward 11
OBOT AKARA (EXH. WW1 â€“ WW10)
(a) Mutilation of figures in Nto Edino VI, Ward 10 on Form EC8B; Ikot Abia 1, Ward 01; Ikot Abia III, ward 03; Obot Akara II, Ward 05
(b) Mutilation of figures on Form EC8C.
ORUK ANAM (EXH. YY1 â€“ YY13)
(a) No party agent signed Form EC8B in:
Ibesit/Nung Ikot 1, Ward 12
Abak Midim IV, ward 11
Ekparakwa Ward 07
Ndot/Ikot Okoro III, Ward 05
Ndot/Ikot Okoro II, Ward 04
IBIONO IBOM (EXH. SS1-SS11); (DDDD10)
(a) Mutilation of figures in Form EC8C
(b) No agent signed Form EC8B
Ibiono Eastern II, Ward 02
Ibiono Central II, Ward 10
Ibiono Eastern I, Ward 01
(c) Mutilation of figures to clean up over-voting
Ibiono Eastern II, ward 02
Ibiono Eastern III, ward 03
Ibiono Southern I, ward 05
Ibiono Western II, ward 04
Ibiono Southern II, ward 06
Ibiono Northern I, ward 07
Ibiono Northern II, ward 08
Ibiono Central I, ward 09
Ikpanya Ward 11
Ibiono Central II, Ward 10
Ibiono Eastern II, Ward 1
Ibiono Eastern I, Ward 01
MBO (EXH. DD1 â€“ DD8); (DDDD17)
(a) Mutilation of figures in Form EC8C
(b) No agent signed Form EC8B in:
Ebughu II, Ward 04
Enwang II, Ward 02
(c) Mutilation of figure in:
i) Ebughu II, Ward 04
ii) Udesi Ward 05
iii) Ebughu 1, Ward 03
iv) Enwang II, Ward 02
By the provision of Section 160(1) of the Evidence Act, INEC the maker of those documents and who was a Respondent in the case had the obligation at the trial of the petition to show when and under what circumstances the alterations were made, for the documents to enjoy any measure of credibility. Having failed to do so, the affected Electoral Forms loses every modicum of probative value. NIKI TOBI, JSC in the case of ORJI v. DORJI TEXTILES MILL (NIG.) LTD (2010) ALL FWLR (PART 519) 999 at 1020, held thus:
â€œIt is elementary law that where a document is altered, it no more enjoy any legal life. The document becomes moribund or dead to the extent of the alterations. Accordingly, a party cannot rely on such a document because it is lifeless in lawâ€.
(c) HIJACKING OF ELECTION MATERIALS, VIOLENCE AND GENERAL/ MASSIVE FALSIFICATION OF RESULTS
The Petitioners during trial tendered Exhibits 12 and 337. Exhibit 12 is the duly certified comprehensive report of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. It covers the three senatorial districts of Uyo, Eket and Ikot Ekpene as well as the entire 31 LGAs of the state. The report states in part;
â€œIt has been observed closely, that the general conduct of the April 11, Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections was not properly conducted by (INEC) by all standard, it appears INEC to have had a close dealing with the sitting authority in the state. Thuggery, killings, snatching of electoral materials was above average. Therefore, the general conduct of the election in April 11, 2015 Gubernatorial and state assembly Election was marred with high level of violence and killingsâ€
The Civil Defence Report called for the nullification of the results and a fresh election.
Exhibit 337 is the Nigeria Police Force Report on the said election. It also covers the three senatorial Districts and very clearly concluded that the election was marred and vitiated by diverse electoral malpractices. The Respondents did not tender any contrary report nor did they dispute the conclusions reached thereto during trial.
In its analysis of the evidence before it, the tribunal in affirming that indeed the Voters Register were indeed in evidence, in its findings held thus:
â€œOn the non-ticking of voters register, we agree that there were incidences of non-ticking of voters register â€¦â€. This is on page 3782 of the records.
The ticking of the name of the voter on the voters register is backed up by law mandatorily and it is clearly stated in INEC guidelines and manuals. Section 49(2) of the Electoral Act (2010) states as follows:
â€œThe Presiding Officer shall, on being satisfied that the name of the person is on the register of voters, issue him a ballot paper and indicate on the Register that the person has votedâ€ (underline mine).
To tick or indicate on the voterâ€™s register is a mandatory provision guiding the conduct of election by the Presiding Officer and thus there could be no other number of accredited voters in Akwa Ibom State on April 11, 2015 beyond the 448,317 ticked in the register. Anything contrary is a product of rigging and arbitrary allocation of figures.
The totality of the above submissions are to the effect that the Petitioners had very clearly and succinctly put across the fact that corrupt practices and non-compliance did take place. So the first hurdle has been crossed. Letâ€™s take the second.
THAT THE CORRUPT PRACTICES OR NON-COMPLIANCE SUBSTANTIALY AFFECTED THE RESULT
Having proved (1) above, proving this second requirements becomes mere academic. In an election where only 437,128 or 448,317 people participated but 1,222,836 is said to be the total votes cast, a whooping over-voting of more than 685,708 or 674,529 with the winner being allocated over 996,071 votes. Even if both figures of 437,128 of the card reader was to be added to 448,317 of the Voters Register, it would come to 885,435 which is still short of the total votes cast which is 1,222,836. The difference would be 337,401, a figure which cannot still change the outcome of cancellation of the results
A point need be made here that documents simplify and play very vital role in this case and it ought to be factored in by the justices of the Supreme Court. Afterall it is normally said that documents speak for itself. This much was recognized by the Supreme Court in the case of BFI GROUP CORP. v. B.P.E. (2012) 18 NWLR (PT. 1332) 209 at 236, where Fabiyi, JSC had this to say:
â€œDocuments tendered as Exhibits are vital as they do not embark on falsehood like some mortal beingsâ€.
Or can we ignore the decision of the Supreme Court in C.D.C. (NIG.) LTD v. SCOA (NIG.) LTD. (2007) 6 NWLR (PT. 1030) 300 at 366 where Ogbuagu, JSC, said:
â€œFinally, this case leading to the instant appeal, is a classic and eloquent evidence or demonstration of the importance of documentary evidence, and being permanent in form is more reliable than oral evidence and it is used as a hanger to test the credibility of oral evidenceâ€.
So it cannot be argued against the fact that unilateral allocation of votes to favour Udom Gabriel Emmanuel who alone was allocated 996,071 votes out of the fourteen (14) contestants substantially affected the results of the election.
THAT THERE WAS INDEED OVER-VOTING AND THAT IT ENURED IN FAVOUR OF THE WINNER OF THE CONTEST
Fourteen candidates contested the election including Udom Gabriel Emmanuel of PDP and Umana Okon Umana of the APC. Votes were unilaterally allocated by INEC. Out of the purported 1,222,836 votes cast, 996,071 votes were allocated to Udom Gabriel Emmanuel who did not tender any document even including his Certificate of Returns. The balance was merely allocated according to the whims and caprices of INEC. It is therefore not gain saying that the over voting enured in favour of Udom Gabriel Emmanuel of the PDP.
THAT THE VOTERS REGISTER MUST BE TENDERED
On this score, the Petitioners met the requirement as set out in the Shinkafi and Okerekeâ€™s case. They not only tendered the entire voters Register as Exhibits 13A â€“ 313B, they spoke to them through the evidences of PW 49 and other Defence Witnesses called by the Respondents.
THAT THE STATEMENT OF RESULTS MUST BE TENDERED IN THE APPROPRIATE FORMS
In the case of Akwa Ibom State, the Petitioners tendered all the Forms EC8A from the 2,982 polling units. They tendered all the Forms EC8B from the 329 wards. They tendered Form EC8C in all the 31 LGAs. Finally, the tendered Form EC8D which was admitted as Exhibit EEEE1. In addition, they tendered all the Ballot papers purportedly used in the elections in sacks of more than 60 bags though they were mangled and mixed up. The bags containing ballot papers were tendered, admitted and marked as Exhibits 345 (1-60). DW26, a witness called by INEC confirmed that the Ballot papers were in a confused, muddled and unidentifiable state. His evidence can be seen on page 3306 of the records. So in the case of Akwa Ibom State, the Petitioners met that threshold set by Justice Okoro and Justice Uweze in the Shinkafi and Okerekeâ€™s case.
THAT THE PETITIONER MUST RELATE EACH OF THE DOCUMENTS TO THE SPECIFIC AREA OF THE CASE IN RESPECT OF WHICH DOCUMENTS WERE TENDERED
This also, the Petitioners did, speaking through PW49 who spoke to the documents, he highlighted and demonstrated the issues of over-voting, non-compliance with the Electoral Act and corrupt practices as was evident on those electoral documents polling units by polling units and wards by wards through Exhibits 336(1-15). Let me exhibit here a few examples of how this was done.
(i) On the face of Forms EC8A and EC8B in 93 polling units across 76 wards in 26 local government areas, total votes indicated to have been cast were more than the number of people indicated to have been accredited in their respective polling units and INEC did not cancel those results. The affected polling units are Abakâ€“ 3; Eketâ€“ 7; Etim Ekpoâ€“ 4; Essien Udimâ€“ 2; Etim Ekpoâ€“ 2; Etinanâ€“ 4; Ibenoâ€“ 1; Ibesikpo Asutanâ€“ 1; Ibiono Ibomâ€“ 4; Ikonoâ€“ 1; Ikot Abasiâ€“ 1; Ikot Ekpeneâ€“ 4; Ituâ€“ 4; Mkpat Eninâ€“ 5; Nsit Ataiâ€“ 5; Nsit Ibomâ€“ 1; Nsit Ubiumâ€“ 4; Obot Akaraâ€“ 1; Okoboâ€“ 8; Onnaâ€“ 3; Oronâ€“ 3; Orukanamâ€“ 3; Udung Ukoâ€“ 7; Uruanâ€“ 3; Urueoffong/Orukoâ€“ 4 and Uyo â€“ 8.
(ii) In 900 polling units across 220 wards in 25 local government areas, several people were indicated to have voted on the votersâ€™ registers but they were not accredited. The affected local government are: Abak-43; Eastern Obolo-34; Eket-23; Esit Eket (Uquo)-13; Essien udim-160; Etim Ekpo-37; Ibesikpo Asutan-14; Ika-37; Ikono-37; Ikot Abasi-4; Ikot Ekpene-21; Ini-57; Itu-13; Mbo-18; Mkpat Enin-33; Nsit Ibom-13; Okobo-46; Onna-58; Oron-26; Orukanam-79; Udung Uko-5; Ukanafun-63; Uruan-18; Urueoffong/Oruko-9 and Uyo-39.
(iii) In 970 polling units across 274 wards in the 31 local government areas, the total number of voters ticked on the voters registers, when compared with Forms EC8A and EC8B, the ticking on the votersâ€™ registers turned out to be less than the total votes indicated to have been cast as recorded in the Forms EC8A and EC8B with at least a margin of 5 in each polling unit. The affected polling units are: Aba-48; Eastern Obolo-13; Eket-26; Esit Eket (Uquo)-31; Essien Udim-117; Etim Ekpo-29; Etinan-42; Ibeno-12; Ibesikpo Asutan-47; Ibiono Ibom-39; Ika-16; Ikono-73; Ikot Abasi-11; Ikot Ekpene-28; Ini-24; Itu-43; Mbo-21; Mkpat Enin-30; Nsit Atai-13; Nsit Ibom-20; Nsit Ubium-24; Obot Akara-29; Okobo-15; Onna-44; Oron-18; OrukAnam-52; Udung Uko-10; Ukanafun-16; Uruan-27; Urueoffong/Oruko-9 and Uyo-43. The total votes indicated to have been cast in the affected polling units were 448,307 (four hundred and forty-eight thousand, three hundred and seven).
(iv) On the face of the polling units by polling units accreditation report, there were no entries recorded for 578 polling units in 163 wards across 30 local government areas but INEC declared results for those polling units. On further examination, it was found that in the entire polling units, that is 1,738 polling units across 309 wards in the 31 local government areas, the total votes purportedly cast on Forms EC8A and EC8B exceed the number of accredited voters on the card reader accredited report.
So on this score also, the Petitioners met the threshold.
THAT THE PETITIONER MUST ALSO SHOW THAT FIGURES REPRESENTING OVER-VOTING IF REMOVED WOULD RESULT IN VICTORY
With due respect to the learned Justices of the Apex court, the Petitioner does not need to be the utmost beneficiary before he can challenge an election that was marred by electoral malpractices such as over-voting. The clear provisions of Section 53(2)(3) is apropos to this. It says:
â€œThere the votes cast at an election in any polling unit exceeds the number of registered voters in that polling unit, the result of the election for that polling unit shall be declared void by the Commission â€¦;
â€œWhere an election is nullified in accordance with subsection (2) of this section, there shall be no return for the election until another poll has taken place in the affected areaâ€ (underline mine for emphasis).
The Petitioners rightly prayed the court to nullify the election and order a re-run in line with the above provision of the law, for which the court below upheld.
OTHER FACTORS/ISSUES THAT NEEDED TO SWAY THE JUSTICES OF THE APEX COURT TO UPHOLD THE DECISION OF THE COURT BELOW
In a number of decided cases, the attitude of the Supreme Court has been to resist the temptation to descend from its exalted position and begin to consider issues and evidence which the two lower courts have duly considered and pronounced except where there are established miscarriage of justice or violation of some principle of law of procedure or the findings are perverse, the Supreme Court will not disturb such findings. The case of AKEREDOLU v. MIMIKO (2014) AU FWLR (pt. 728) 829 at 886, per Alagoa, JSC is a case in point. I do not understand why the case of Akwa Ibom State is different.
In the case of OMISORE v. AREGBESOLA (2015) 15 NWLT (pt. 1482) 205 at 275, the Supreme Court had this to say:
â€œwhat is more, due to the initial advantage which the trial court had to actually seeing and assessing the witnesses â€¦ issues relating to the demeanour of witnesses which the court saw and assessed and the ascription of weight to their evidence are the exclusive prerogatives of the trial court, prerogatives which neither the lower court nor this court can interfere with â€¦â€
Another issue is the issue of INEC documents and any official documents for that matter which are tendered in evidence and admitted. All the parties in the matter including INEC pleaded them even though the tendering was done in most cases by the party that will failed if the documents were not tendered. Like in the case of Akwa Ibom State, all the parties jointly tendered the documents. They were certified by INEC who is a party in the matter. INEC did not at any time disputes or impugne on the contents of those documents, therefore its veracity cannot be questioned.
It is a settled principle of law that it is only when the authenticity of a document is challenged that the maker needs to be called. See AREGBESOLA v. OYINLOLA (2011) 9 NWLR (PT. 1253) 458 at 586-587.
Let me make some comments about the card reader report. I had already in this write-up commented about the Supreme Courtâ€™s attitude towards the card reader in the decisions made so far. While His Lordship, Okoro JSC says his understanding of the card reader machine is to authenticate the owner of a voterâ€™s card and to prevent multiple voting, His Lordship, Nweze, JSC sees the card reader machine as a supplementary device to the votersâ€™ register. Those two comments which in my view can best be described as obiter dictum have in no way consign the card reader machine to the dustbin of history. Far be it, but what I think it does is to set the tone for additional legislation to give it legislative approval. If the card reader, as His Lordship, Justice Okoro sees it is meant to prevent multiple voting or as His Lordship, Justice Nweze sees it as playing complementary role to the voters register, then His Lordships cannot in another breadth refused to accept the data generated by it. A careful look at Section 57 of the Electoral Act reading it side by side with INEC Guidelines and the Manual, 2015 gives added impetus to INEC prescribing the manner that voting will take place. Section 57 of the Electoral Act says:
â€œNo voter shall record his vote otherwise than by personally attending at the polling unit and recording his cote in the manner prescribed by the Commissionâ€ (underline mine).
The above section of the Electoral Act gives INEC the power to prescribed the manner a voter can record his vote and these include the authentication of the electronic voters card by the Card Reader Machine. The card reader does not only authenticate but also record every voterâ€™s card that passes through it and forward same to the Master Saver at INEC Head office in Abuja. The question to ask here is, if the figures recorded and forwarded to it is inconclusive and unsure, why does INEC release same to litigating parties? Why does the Supreme Court reward a party who is blowing hot and cold? If INEC can give instruction that elections should be held using the card reader machine but turn round to argue in court through her lawyers that election was conducted manually (whatever that means), then who is fooling who? Why would the apex court give credence to such deceitful behaviour?
COLLATION OF RESULTS
At the Tribunal, the Petitioners through the testimonies of PW4, PW7, PW33, PW44 and PW46 all testified to the effect that there was no collation at the State Headquarters of INEC or anywhere else. Their testimonies was corroborated by Exhibits 5 and 6, which were video clips of what transpired at INEC Headquarters, Uyo on the night that collation ought to take place. The office was under lock and key with the light put out and nobody except security personnel were found therein. Their evidence was untainted, neither did the respondents call another witness in rebuttal.
I had also already shown that in so many local government areas like Mkpat Enin, Itu, Uyo, Ibeno, Etinan, Mbo only one or two PDP party agents signed the entire ward results for the entire wards of a local government area. Such agent could not have been omnipresent at every ward within the local government area. There can be no election known to law if collation of result is not done. Collation is part of election pyramid and it sums up the total vote casts in an election. There can be no election without collation.
THE MORAL BURDEN OF THE JUDGMENT OF THE SUPREME COURT
Against the backdrop of the perception of a reasonable man, justice have not been done or seen to be done. This is so when taking into account some major events preceding the judgment. I will highlight a few of them.
(i) Events at the Court Room
Some careful observers find it difficult to believe that the judgment of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 3rd February, 2016 was not known or compromised by certain interests before actual delivery because of some strange and bizarre event that took place in the court room that day. Their Lordships had sat all day to enable parties adopt their briefs. As soon as their Lordships retired to their chambers to ponder over their judgment at about 8.05p.m., the Senate Minority Leader who was the sitting Governor of Akwa Ibom State at the time the election was conducted and now the Senate Committee Vice Chairman on Judiciary, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio invaded the court premises as a conqueror king with a very large contingents of cheerleaders, praise singers, party-men in uniform, former and present commissioners in the state. First, he addressed PDP party supporters in the premises assuring them of victory in the court, he then proceeded to enter the courtroom with that large crowd in tow to announce to everyone who cared to listen to him that â€œit was all overâ€. With the shout of his vociferous supporters singing his praises, he broke all known courtroom protocols, went from one lawyer to the other and from one person to the other telling them that the judgment that was about to be delivered is a done deal. He even told some lawyers of the Petitioners that he will take them to Udom Emmanuel after the judgment to be rehabilitated and accommodated. Security men had a hell of a time trying to control the crowd that had invaded the courtroom. Akpabio caused quite a stir, breaking all known courtroom protocols and decorum in a frenzy of banters which in a way brought the hallowed chambers of the court into great disrepute, after which he sat down, unroped, opposite their justices to listen to their judgment. That was a display that totally called into question the integrity and the sanctity of the judgment delivered that day by their Lordships. As he was walking out of the courtroom in a frenzy of jubilant crowd which included marabous, party thugs, etc, he stopped by and addressed them once again inside the courtroom yelling to them to the annoyance of every reasonable man, thus: â€œI told you, I told you, this is Nigeriaâ€. I believe their Lordships must have learnt, heard or seen video clips of the events that took place in the courtroom that day and I can imagine how they feel and what meaning they can make out of it.
The behaviour of Senator Akpabio who himself is a lawyer and who knows courtroom procedures but who didnâ€™t care about breaking it, call to question the legitimacy of the judgment of their Lordships on Akwa Ibom State Governorship election. This is so against the backdrop of the fact that till date, the Chief Justice of the Federation has not deem it necessary to issue statement condemning and distancing the apex court from that show of shame that brought the hallowed chambers of the Supreme Court into great disrepute, shame and opprobrium.
THE OPINION OF INTERNATIONAL OBSERVER GROUPS
I know that court judgments are not given based on street talks and comments by those whose views are tainted with partisan interest and leanings. However, their Lordships who are part and parcel of the larger society cannot plead ignorance of the very weighty and damning commentaries of unbiased international observer groups who witnessed the carnage that took place in Akwa Ibom State on 11th April, 2015 over which they gave their reports. Let me report a few of them here:
(i) The United States Government
â€œWe have seen the reports of violence and irregularities, particularly in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States. We hereby call on aggrieved parties to pursue their grievances peacefully in the judicial arenaâ€
(ii) The European Union
â€œThe elections on 1 April 2015 were marred by systemic weaknesses, misuse of incumbency, use of violence, and an increasingly pressured environment for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) especially in the south. The Election Day process appeared to be overall more efficient, however, procedural shortcomings were prevalent and incidents of violence and interference were evident, especially in Rivers and Akwa Ibom Statesâ€¦ incidents of violence and interference were most pronounced in Rivers and Akwa Ibom Stateâ€¦ problems were most pronounced in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States where there are multiple credible reports of violence and interference which warrant further investigationâ€.
(iii) Nigerian Civil Society Group
â€œInformation obtained from our networks of field observers and partners indicate the following: numerous cases of electoral misconduct at polling units â€“ 10 reports in Akwa Ibom. There were killings in Rivers State where seven people (including a police officer) were killed and in Akwa Ibom where three people were killed. The situation room hereby calls on INEC to urgently take steps to clinically scrutinise the final collated results from Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia against the polling unit results and make a reasoned judgment about themâ€.
The court was the only opportunity people had to ventilate their grievances and seek for justice. The majority of the people of Akwa Ibom State who had lost over 30 of their loved ones had put their trust and faith in the judicial system to do justice to them but their expectations have been shattered on the platform of politico-cum-judicial abracadabra. How sad! The people still believe that justice has not been done to them. Their anger is only muted, not suppressed.
THE SOCIAL BURDEN
There is yet another angle to the judgment of the Supreme Court and that is the social burden. The judgment of the Supreme Court on Akwa Ibom State has sent a very dangerous signal to the political class. Nigerians know how to learn fast. That judgment on Akwa Ibom State has shocked many who spoke to me. One of them who spoke to me and whose views represented the general opinion of people said: â€œLook Barrister, from what has happened at the Supreme Court, in the case of Akwa Ibom State, it is now obvious that it is impossible to win court cases against incumbent governors in court no matter how good and convincing your cases are because of the billions of naira they throw about. Come 2019, no one will contemplate going to any court to ventilate any grievances arising out of a flawed election. Everyone will be equipping and preparing their private armies of killers, hijackers, kidnappers, election riggers and use them to visit mayhem on the people provided they winâ€. He further told me: â€œLook the PDP can afford to laugh today but they will weep in 2019â€.
That is the social burden that the judgment of the Supreme Court in Akwa Ibom Governorship case has brought upon the nation.
The Court of Appeal in handing down its judgment where they nullified the entire election in Akwa Ibom State and ordered for a re-run wrote what may pass an epitaph. They said:
I chip in a word of warning. May this country never again experience the violence and thuggery found to have taken place in Akwa Ibom State during the Governorship elections held on 11th April, 2015. Politics should never be so desperate that lives and decorum are sacrificed on alters of winning at all costs. The descent into almost anarchy as occurred in this case must never again be allowed to take place. The supervising body, INEC, is charged at all times to remain on the side of truth and never be complicit in any subversion of due processâ€ per OLUDOTUN ADEBOLA ADEFOPE-OKOJIE, JCA in CA/A/EPT/656C/2015.
In similar vein, let me attempt to write the epitaph of the Supreme Court represented by their judgment as perceived by a reasonable man:
â€œMay I chip in some words of praise. You should kill, maim, hijack and attack defenceless people of Akwa Ibom State provided you win. Violence and thuggery is allowed to the extent of what took place during the governorship election held on 11th April, 2015. Politics should be played in a do or die manner. You can kill or maim in a desperate manner provided you win at all costs. It doesnâ€™t matter if anarchy sets in, in the future, provided you win and acquire power by force of arm. Politics should be survival of the fittest. INEC, thank you for deceiving the people with your card reader machine abracadabra. The billions of dollars spent on its purchase can be burnt to ashes, who cares, this is Nigeria. Always support the winners and play your part in subverting the will of the peopleâ€. Per Justices of the Supreme Court in SC/1/2016.
May I conclude by calling on the Supreme Court to reverse itself and make a categorical statement on the events of that day. Conversely, I also call on the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari to set up a high-powered judicial panel of enquiry to be headed by eminent jurist or past Chief Justices of the Federation to probe and investigate the hearing and the judgment of the Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Appeal at the Supreme Court especially on what took place in the courtroom on Wednesday, 3rd February, 2016, which desecrated the hallowed chambers and called to question the veracity of the judgment delivered that day. Such an enquiry is inevitable to address the imminent backlash consequent upon the judgment of the apex court.
Let me finally end this write up with the words of Senator Godswill Akpabio on the occasion of the reception held in his honour by the people of Ikot Ekpene senatorial district on Saturday, 6th February, 2016 at Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium. He said:
â€œYou can buy Judgment at the Supreme Court, but I got Justiceâ€
Effiong Oquong, Esq.