Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, has begun pre-hearing of the petitions challenging the declaration of Pastor Umo Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship poll held in the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The three- member panel headed by Honourable Justice Adekunle Adeleye treated two governorship petitions during the commencement of the pre-hearing session on Friday, May 26, 2023.
Those treated were the joint petitions All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Obong Akanimo Udofia, and the Young Peoples Party (YPP), and its candidate Senator Bassey Akpan.
All the lead Counsels for both the petitioners and the Respondents were present at the Tribunal for the Pre-hearing session.
For the APC and Akanimo Udofia, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria Dr Hassan Liman is their lead counsel while Tunde Falola is leading
the YPP and Bassey Akpan legal team.
Also for the Respondents’ the Independent National Electoral Commissíon,(INEC) and first Respondent has Offiong Offiong as its lead Counsel, Paul Usoro is leading the legal team of the Second Respondent and Governor-elect, Pastor Umo Eno, while Nnamonso Ekanem is lead Counsel for the third Respondent, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),
During the proceedings, first Respondents lead Counsel, Offiong Offiong (SAN) identified three issues for determination before the Tribunal, which include whether the Tribunal has jurisdiction to inquire into and determine the issues of qualifications which had been covered by judgement delivered by the superior Court.
Fielding questions from newsmen after the proceeding, the second Respondent Counsel, Paul Usoro (SAN) said, “They (petitioners) have raised an issue on the qualification of Umo Eno. That is an issue that has been litigated at the Supreme Court.
“And we are saying this Tribunal cannot sit as a Trial Court to start looking at those issues again. It is something that has already been done. Such issue should be thrown out’
On his part, Tunde Falola, YPP Lawyer simply responded ,”They (Respondents) are challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal and we have filed our responses. I don’t want to speak beyond that as the matter is already before the Tribunal”,
The three-member panel adjourned the APC petition to June 5th and the YPP petition till today Saturday 27, 2023 for continuation of Pre-hearing