…Says constituency poll inchoate
BY: Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has faulted the petition of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Akwa Ibom state and its Essien Udim state constituency candidate Mr Nse Ntuen over the outcome of the March 9 poll.
INEC had last week, through its solicitors of Iroagalachi & Co, Plot A1, Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna, filed a motion at the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, informing the tribunal that the March 9, 2019 election in Essien Udim State constituency was inchoate as no candidate was declared winner of that election.
In the motion dated June, 30, 2019 the electoral body, therefore, informed the three-man panel led by Justice A. Akanbi that the APC candidate, Nse Ntuen listed as the 1st Respondent in Petition No. EPT/AKS/SHA/12/2019 was not declared by the Commission as the winner of the said election.
INEC noted that to activate the jurisdiction of an election petition tribunal, there must be evidence to show to the tribunal that a declaration was indeed made and a candidate returned as winner of the election.
It noted that in this case, there is no evidence that anyone was declared winner and returned.
INEC further noted that no evidence of return was attached to the petition filed by the petitioners neither did Nse Ntuen attach any evidence of return to the reply filed by him.
Accordingly, the Commission through its lawyers argued that the tribunal was not clothed with the requisite jurisdiction to proceed with the matter, and therefore urged to decline jurisdiction over the matter which involved an incomplete election.
Meanwhile, a lawyer privy to proceedings in the ongoing election matters corroborated the INEC’s position that Nse Ntuen lacked the legal capacity to be described as the 1st Respondent in an election petition because he was not declared the winner of that election by the electoral umpire.
He maintained that since the Essien Udim state constituency candidate for APC was not declared the winner of the election, there was the need for the petitioners to reconsider their petition with a view to allowing INEC the opportunity of making a clear statement on the election and return to the field for completion of the election exercise.
However, when newsmen contacted Mr. Ekemini Udim, lead counsel to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and its candidate, Gerald Umoh, he said he is still discussing with his clients on the best way forward, assuring that once a decision is reached, he will make his views known.
The position of INEC was presented by Jerome Irogalachi, (Esq) while Nse Ntuen, was represented by Patrick Umoh, (Esq)