By Martins Inyangetoh, Endurance Johnson,Uyo
The Federal High Court sitting in Uyo has dismissed the suit filed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) seeking to stop the conduct of Local Government Elections in Akwa Ibom State.
The court, presided by Hon. Justice F. O. Riman, held that the suit has no bases in law and lacked the backing of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
The court further held that APC has failed to present cogent constitutional reasons for their suit which it said would have been the foundation on which the established facts in support of the suit would exist. The court described the argument by the APC that AKISIEC having failed to obtain and compile an Updated Electoral Register and publishing same for public scrutiny 60 days before the election, which the plaintiffs argued would lead to disenfranchisement of thousands of Electorates, as lacking constitutional basis.
The court also dismissed the argument by APC that AKISIEC should not consider using the register that was used in 2015 elections for the forthcoming Local Government Elections. The court agreed with the submission of the defendants- Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission (AKISIEC), Akwa Ibom State Government (AKSG), Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – that a similar register was used in the conduct of the Local Government Elections in the states like Benue and Lagos early this year without any controversy in the electioneering processes.
APC, Amadu Atai, and Effiong Etuk, were plaintiffs in the suit, and they were represented by Effiong Okwong, Esq. and others. AKSG, AKISIEC, INEC and PDP were the defendants in the suit. The Attorney General of the State and Commissioner for Justice, Barr Uwemedimo Nwoko, Esq., represented both the state government and AKISIEC while the Legal Adviser of PDP, Godswill Umoh, Esq., represented PDP.
Speaking to newsmen after the judgement earlier today, the PDP Legal Adviser, Mr. Umoh expressed happiness over the outcome of the judgement. He thanked the court for its well-considered judgement, stressing that he was scared of what the outcome would be considering the preparations already put in place by AKISIEC for the conduct of the forthcoming local government elections.
“We got scared, when you know how much money is put in place in preparation for the forthcoming elections. It would have been disastrous if the judgement had gone the other way which would would have meant that all the efforts and preparations of the PDP in campaigning in all the Local Government Areas would have come to a naught.”
Speaking further, the Party Legal Adviser said that the court has done a good job in explaining and espousing the law given the short time the court had to deliver the judgement. Barr Umoh further stated that although the party would have appealed against the judgement if the court held otherwise, but he said that would have meant that AKISIEC would have had to put a stop to the election come December 2nd.