Akwa Ibom Tribunal: PDP’s Defence Suffers Setback Due To Lack Of Credible Witnesses
By our Correspondent
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which is the second Respondent at the Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal on Wednesday September 9, 2015 suffered a setback on its second day of defence at the Tribunal as it failed to call more witnesses as expected.
When the case was called, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo, SAN the counsel to the PDP informed the Tribunal that they have no witnesses for the day because the persons they expected to call in their defence are yet to arrive from Akwa Ibom State. He applied that the matter be adjourned to Thursday 10th September, 2015.
The application was not opposed by the other parties. However, Mr. Dayo Akinlaja, SAN submitted that the 2nd Respondent should not expect any extension of time due to their inability to present witnesses. The Tribunal agreed with him and restated that whatever the Respondents wishes to do must be within the 14 days period alloted to them for defence.
However, reliable sources within the PDP revealed that the PDP actually has other witnesses in Abuja but that the party was in serious confusion following the shameful outing of the first four witnesses they called on Tuesday which practically supported the case of the Petitioners, Mr. Umana Okon Umana and the All Progressives Congress (APC), that there was no election in the state. He further stated that the party’s legal team have discovered that even the remaining witnesses have fatal defects going by the contents of the statement on oath of the witnesses which had already been filed.
He said that this prompted the legal team to seek for an adjournment to enable them see if they can coach the witnesses to put up a more consolatory performance when they are eventually called. A member of the Petitioners legal team who spoke in confidence however insisted that what is incurably bad cannot be remedied by even a month’s coaching and that they are battle ready for any antics the Respondents may introduce.
It was also reliably gathered that the PDP have brought some of their chieftains from Uyo to Abuja to testify at the Tribunal if their application to call additional witnesses is granted. Mr. Oyetibo, SAN had informed the Tribunal on Tuesday September 8 that they had filed an application to call additional witnesses and served same on the Petitioners and the other Respondents.
However, Mr. Solomon Umoh, SAN the Petitioners counsel, had indicated his intention to opposed the application because the time for such application had passed and that the 1st Respondent’s counsel, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN, had equally filed a similar application at the Tribunal but later withdrew it having argued against a similar application at the National Assembly Election Tribunal and won. Mr. Umoh had further stated that he hopes that the 2nd Respondent’s counsel will also follow the step of Mr. Usoro, SAN and allow wisdom to prevail by withdrawing the application. The Tribunal will hear arguments on the application on Thursday September 10.
Amongst those brought from Uyo to testify if PDP’s application to call additional witnesses is granted from the documents filed at the Tribunal are; Mr. Bassey Albert, a serving senator, Mr. Emmanuel Ibok Essien, a former senator, Atuekong Idongesit Nkanga, a former governor of the state and the Chairman of Mr. Udom Emmanuel’s 2015 campaign organisation, Mr. Anietie Okon, a former senator, Mr. Chris Ekpenyong, a former deputy governor of the state, among others. A PDP source revealed that the above PDP chieftains who are already in Abuja are all being lodged at the presidential wing of the Transcorp Hillton Hotel in Abuja.
A member of the Petitioners legal team however insisted that no amount of desperation can remedy a defence that is incurably bad and that the Respondents themselves have already seen the hand writing on the wall.
Hearing in the petition which has attracted national attention will continue on Thursday September 10, 2015.