Compared to last week, the atmosphere at the court premises, where the Tribunal convened today, was tense. Sources have confirmed that Godswill Akpabio instructed his cult leaders to send their foot-soldiers to the venue of the Tribunal for disruptions so that he could blame it on Senator Akpan Udoedehe.
Luckily, the plan leaked to the Police and that prompted the Commissioner of Police to dispatch a contingent of Police to surround the court house. As a result, only very few members of the public were allowed to attend the hearing.
When the Tribunal resumed, the judges were in shock when they found out that the lawyers for Akpabio, PDP, and INEC were using delaying tactics to stall the proceedings of the case; they went to court completely unprepared. Again, the two-woman and one-man panel of judges reminded them that the Tribunal has a dateline to meet and that deliberate withholding of information and submitting of unnecessary petitions and objections in future will no longer be tolerated.
It could be recalled that when the Tribunal sat last week, ACN filed a request demanding INEC to turn over to its lawyers all ballot papers for scanning in preparation for forensic analysis. INEC was supposed to file a response today. But when the matter came up, the INEC lawyers told the judges that they had no response to submit. Instead, according to sources, INEC lawyers gave the judges a petition of their own with a demand that the court should not force the agency to turn over the ballot papers to ACN for perusal. In other words, INEC does not want ACN to have copies of voting materials necessary for presentation as evidence at the Tribunal.
Sources say Godswill Akpabio is working very hard behind the scene to stop INEC from turning over the voting materials to ACN. A forensic analysis of the ballot papers is suppoed to determine the total number of voters and how many of those who voted were dully registered and qualified to vote. An examination of the ballot papers will also enable actuaries to determine how many people voted in each Local Government Area. Experts say for a candidate to win, that candidate must receive at least one-third of the votes from the total voters in each LGA. The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has always maintained that out of the 31 LGA in Akwa Ibom State, Akpabio did not win more than two, assuming he won any. That is why ACN is demanding those ballot papers from INEC for examination and forensic analysis.
Those who were present in the court today have confirmed that Akpabio’s lawyers were given a stern warning by the judges to come to court on Monday prepared with all the necessary documents in tow and ready for submission, else they may be cited for contempt of court.
Written by Thompson Essien