The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, has upheld the election of Mr Okpolupm Etteh of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and dismissed Mr Eseme Eyiboh’s petition of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for lack in merit.
The Panel held that the petitioner failed to provide credible evidence to prove his case and subsequently dismissed the petitions completely.
The judgment, which was read by the chairman of the three-man panel of Justices, Justice Kudirat Jose, also affirmed Etteh, who was returned elected by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) in the House of Representatives election of February 25, 2023, winner of the election for Eket/ONNA/Esit Eket/Ibeno Federal Constituency.
Citing relevant authorities, the Tribunal further maintained that the burden of proof was on the petitioner, who relied on mere speculations to allege that Etteh’s certificates were forged.
In his petitions, Eyiboh had alleged that the candidate of the PDP was not qualified to stand for election due to certificate forgery and, therefore, sought the tribunal to nullify Etteh’s eligibility and declare him (Eyiboh) winner of the said election.
It would be recalled that Counsel to the first respondent, Mr Ekpenyong Ntekim, during the Panel’s sitting of told the Tribunal that it was rather surprising that the petitioner could not do due diligence to the case, citing his failure to produce witnesses from any of the institutions he claimed issued fake certificates to Etteh.
Meanwhile, Counsels to the petitioner, second respondent (PDP) and third respondent (INEC) expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Panel for its judgment.