The All Progressive Congress (APC) candidates in Akwa Ibom state in the just concluded elections are currently at loggerhead with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state over the inspection of the election materials.
The candidates include Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom North West) and the governorship candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere. They had approached the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in the state to challenge the outcome of the 2019 elections.
Apart from Akpabio and Ekere’s petitions, the APC also has five House of Representatives petitions served on INEC.
Meanwhile, INEC had said the inspection on Akpabio’s petition and one House of Representatives petition were currently ongoing.
It was gathered that some APC House of Assembly contestants also filed petitions in the tribunal but the orders are yet to be served on INEC as of press time.
The electoral umpire in the state led by Mike Igini has been accused of denying the petitioners access to the materials and deliberately delaying the inspection process.
It was gathered that Apabio’s legal team were sighted in INEC’s strong room sorting out the materials.
Prior to April 23, Akpabio’s lawyer, Mr. Patrick Umoh, accused the electoral umpire of denying his legal team access to the election materials.
The Election Petition Tribunal chaired by Justice W.O Akanbi had on April 2 granted the petitioners an order to inspect and copy all election materials used in Akpabio’s senatorial district. Senator Akpabio is challenging the outcome of the February 23, 2019 poll that declared his opponent, Dr. Christopher Ekpenyong of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) winner.
Umoh had in press interviews alleged that INEC flouted the tribunal’s order to allow them inspect and copy the materials for litigation purposes.
In the same manner, Mr. Victor Iyanam, lead counsel to Nsima Ekere and the APC, had on April 30 in a letter to Mr. Igini threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against INEC over alleged refusal to comply with tribunal order on inspection of election materials.
The Akwa Ibom governorship Election Petition Tribunal on April 15, 2019 in Petition No. EPT/AKS/ Gov/ 01/2019 chaired by Justice A. M Yakubu granted the petitioners Obong Nsima Ekere and the APC an order to inspect, copy, and obtain certified true copies of all election materials used in the March 9 governorship election in the state.
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