Posted by Robert Benson, Abuja | 30 July 2015 | 4,572 times
The Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, yesterday rejected evidence sought to be tendered by former Petroleum Minister, Atuekong Don Etiebet, at the ongoing hearing of the petition brought by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Mr Umana Okon Umana, against the election of Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel as the governor of the state.
At the resumed hearing of the case, Etiebet, appearing as a witness for the APC candidate, had sought to tender some newspaper and video evidence which he claimed he had made during and after the election.
However, Paul Usoro, SAN, counsel to Governor Emmanuel, strongly objected to the admissibility of such documents by the court, claiming that they did not meet the basic ingredients of the law for them to be admitted by the tribunal.
According to Mr Usoro, for such documents to be admitted, they ought to have been pleaded by the witness in his statement, an action which Atuekong Etiebet and the APC lawyers had overlooked.
On the video evidence, he argued that it was not enough to have mentioned the generic name of the computer like Hewlett Packard, which the video was said to have been made from, but that it was mandatory by law to state the model and serial numbers of the machines.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Tobechukwu Nweke, aligned himself with the submissions of Mr Usoro. He went further to state that the origin of computer-generated evidence ought to be ascertained since they are subject to distortions and manipulations.
Mr Usoro, citing several legal authorities, also contended that for the newspapers to be admitted, they ought to have been certified by the National Library a position counsel to the APC candidate, Mr. Wole Olanipekun, SAN, had tried to debunk, also citing his own legal authorities.
After 30 minutes break to write their ruling, Hon Justice A. S. Umar, Hon Justice K. O. Dawodu and Hon Justice P. T. Kwahar unanimously agreed with the counsel to Mr Udom Emmanuel that the newspapers and video evidence which Atuekong Etiebet had sought to tender did not meet the necessary legal requirements and subsequently threw them out.
The rejection of the evidence of Atuekong Etiebet is the second major setback for Mr. Umana Okon Umana – the first being the inability of his team of forensic experts to have scanned substantial materials as at the expiration of the court-ordered extension.
•Photo shows Etiebet.
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