Appeal Court nullifies A’Ibom Speaker’s election
By; Patrick Titus, Uyo.
Search for who becomes the new speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has begun following the nullification of election of the Speaker, Mr. Aniekan Uko as Member representing Ibesikpo/Asutan state constituency by an Appeal Court in Abuja.
As at when filling this report, secret meeting were being held at different locations by sections of the house members strategizing on who would replace the ousted speaker.
Following the zoning principle in the state, which currently favours members from Uyo Senatorial district, a battle line has been drawned between two contestants namely; Bar. Onofiok Luke of Nsit Ubium and Bar. Ime Okon of Ibiono Ibom State constituencies believed to be the only ones qualified to contest the seat of Speaker.
Uko who is of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was declared the winner of April 11th Governorship/State Houses of Assembly elections conducted in the state by Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and who was subsequently elected the Speaker of the House, had been in legal tussle with his opponent, Mr. Gabriel Akpan of All Progressive Congress (APC).
Akpan who felt not satisfied by the INEC result declaring Uko as winner of the said election and member representing the area had challenged the verdict at the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja but lost to Uko. He went further to Appeal Court presided over by Justice Moshood Abdulraman.
Justice Abdulrahman in his ruling on the matter, Tuesday, set aside the position of the Tribunal and nullified the election of Mr. Aniekan Uko on ground of electoral malpractices during the said April 11 election in the state. He consequently, called for a rerun of the poll in the constituency.
Reacting to the ruling, the ousted Speaker, Mr. Uko expressed believe that he would win overwhelmingly at the re-run of the poll because the people of Ibesikpo/Asutan who voted him before would vote for him again.
“Yes, it is true that my election has been nullified. What is left for us now is to go out to the field and win the election again because my people gave me the mandate and I still believe that they are out there waiting for me to come back,” Uko said.
Berating the position of the Tribunal, Gabriel said, “When the case was presented before the tribunal, instead of the tribunal looking at the document they said that my documents were filed out of time.”
According to him, the tribunal had said that he filed the documents a day after the 21 days ultimatum demanded by the tribunal. He added that the tribunal then added 11, the day the election was conducted instead of starting from 12. He explained that the situation accounted for why the tribunal struck out the case.
“So, when I went to the Court of Appeal, the Court had to look at those documents; even I myself tendered 118 documents to backup my evidence. And when they looked at those documents, they nullified the election in my constituency.
“For the rerun election, I am very much prepared for it, even if it was going to be ran tomorrow, I will be victorious. The time for impunity has gone,” he said.
The Chairman, Akwa Ibom State House Committee on Information, Bar. Ime Okon in his comment on final ruling said, “It is unfortunate that the Speaker’s election has been annulled at the Appeal Court but we are sure that we he will win again at the rerun because he is loved by his people.”