A’Ibom Governorship Tribunal: A Glorious day for Umana Okon Umana

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Umana Tribunal Court Case
By Iboro Otongaran, Abuja

Today was a day of victories for Umana Okon Umana, the APC governorship candidate at the 2015 election. The state governorship election petition tribunal sitting at the FCT High Court, Maitama, Abuja, this morning ruled on all three applications brought by Umana at yesterday’s sitting, each of them in his favour—a fitting birthday present to the petitioner who turns 56 today.
Dismissing objections from Udom Emmanuel, the PDP and INEC, who are the first, second and third respondents in the case, the tribunal granted Umana permission to bring on more witnesses, tender more documents and file more witness statements on oath at the tribunal. Delivering the ruling, tribunal chair, Justice Sadiq Umar, said the position of the tribunal on the applications brought by Umana and the objections by the respondents was based on points of law and in the interest of justice.

Umana brought the three applications at the hearing on Wednesday but was stoutly opposed by counsel to the respondents, who cited authorities that the lead counsel for the petitioner characterised as irrelevant to the case. The lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, went on to cite authorities which he said were the only ones relevant to the case and prayed the tribunal to allow the applications. The chairman reserved ruling on the applications till today.

When hearing resumed today, the tribunal upheld the arguments by the counsel to the petitioner and dismissed the authorities cited by the respondents and their objections as irrelevant. Once the objections were dismissed, the petitioner, Umana, was called to the witness stand to give his evidence in chief. He was sworn on oath and cross examined by his counsel.
That done, the counsel sought the permission of the tribunal to tender documents and video recordings Umana had pleaded in his witness statement and other evidence earlier pleaded in the petition.

The respondents, though their counsel, brought up a lot of arguments about they not having been given copies of some of the documents to be tendered, and some of the documents not being tendered properly, followed with counter arguments from the petitioner. In the end the tribunal canvassed a consensus approach to tendering the documents and the matter was resolved after two breaks to reconcile the paperwork.
Umana thus tendered the following documents which were all accepted and marked as exhibits, with the respondents reserving their right to object during the presentation of their addresses:

1. A list of accredited voters at the elections, unit by unit; receipt of payment for certified true copy (CTC) of the accreditation list; a certificate of compliance with the Evidence Act.

2. A list of APC agents as sent to INEC by the petitioner.

3. CTCs of Global Concord newspaper of 17 April 2015, New Telegraph newspaper p2, and The Nation p10.

4. A petition by Umana submitted to Akwa Ibom REC in Uyo dated 11 April 2015.

5. Seven video clips in DVD.

6. A press statement by Augusta Ogaku dated 2 April 2015.

7. A petition by APC dated 2 April 2015 to the chairman of INEC.

8. A petition by the law firm of Barr Effiong Oquong dated 7 March 2015 to the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

9. A petition by the APC dated 4 April 2015 to the Inspector General of Police.

10. A petition by Umana dated 23 April 2015 to the chairman of INEC

11. 23 carbon copies of form EC8A in respect of some polling units in Uyo LGA.

12. 10 carbon copies of form EC8B in respect of Urueoffong Oruko LGA.

13. Five carbon copies of form EC8A of some polling units in Ibesikpo Asutan LGA.

14. Five carbon copies of form EC8Aof some polling units in Nsit Atai LGA.

15. Two official receipts of INEC for payment for CTC of registered voters for the state.

16. Photographs of a deceased person, death certificate and related documents.

The tribunal adjourned at about 4.30pm for continuation of hearing tomorrow, 21 August.



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