By Citizen Reporter
…Got FSLC in 1988, Gained Admission in Polytechnic in 1990, Got OND in 1992, Got WAEC Certificate in 2002
It was a tale of drama and inconsistency yesterday at the National Assembly election petition tribunal seating in Uyo. In a resumed hearing at the Tribunal in the case of Rt Hon. Eseme Eyiboh and Hon Okpolump Etteh, more revelations were made on how Etteh obtained OND Certificate in a non existing private polytechnic in Aba before getting his WAEC Certificate.
The first drama of the day was that the 1st Respondent (Okpulupm Etteh) was to open his defense after the Petitioner (Eyiboh) had closed his case on Monday but he conspicuously failed to appear before the tribunal despite the fact that he had earlier said he will testify as the only witness.
Testifying before the tribunal, one Ozemene Goodluck James who claimed that he is the Registrar of Temple Gate Polytechnic, Aba ( formerly School of Management Technology), presented documents letter, attestation letter, admission form, result after completion of the program, ND Certificate, application he wrote to get the certificate to back up his claim that Etteh attended the school.
However, when crossed examined by counsel to the petitioner, Jumbo Umoh Esq, James admitted that Etteh got his FSLC in 1988 and two years after primary education, he gained admission into the polytechnic in 1990. He also admitted before the tribunal that Etteh got WAEC in 2002, ten years after he got his ND.
But when confronted with names of tertiary institutions (public and private) in the country from 1926 till date, neither School of Management Technology nor Temple Gate Polytechnic was found.
Tribunal rejected the governing council attendance register tendered by the 1s Respondent.
In another testimony at the Tribunal by a second witness and Deputy Registrar, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, one Alexander Anukam, tendered documents that included, IT, letter of admission for HND, certificate in marketing from Polytechnic Oko, pre-national results from Oko, statement of results from Institute of Management and Technology, Aba.
However, counsel to the Petitioner objected to the documents, noting that there is no admission letter to back up the claim. He also objected to the pre- HND result and submitted that there is no result for admission into any tertiary institution in the country, not to talk of a Federal Polytechnic like Oko.
Akaninyene Inyang, Deputy Director of Examination Certification Division, Ministry of Education, Akwa Ibom State, also testified as another witness to the PDP on the matter. He tendered before the tribunal, First School Leaving Certificate, FSLC, which the ministry issued in 1998 to Hon. Etteh upon completion of primary school education in the state, submitting that the document was not forged.
But when confronted with the FSLC result and the birth certificate as filed before INEC, Inyang was taken unawares and sweating at the witness box as he could not reconcile the inconsistency in both the name on the date of birth and the name on FSLC.
The fourth witness from the People’s Democratic Party in the state, Mr. Oku Johnny, who identified himself as an administrative officer, also testified before the tribunal. He submitted some documents to back up his claim.
It would be recalled that the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, on Monday denied existence of the School of Management and Technology, Aba.
It would equally be recalled that the Petitioner, Eyiboh approached the Tribunal that Etteh presented forged certificates to INEC, thus making him unqualified to have contested the election for Eket Federal Constituency seat. Hon Eyiboh’s petition is premised on the single ground of eligibility.
On Monday during the resume hearing, Eyiboh subpoenaed the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, an agency empowered to approve, regulate, accredit and sanction Polytechnics, Monotechnics and related institutions.
The NBTE was represented by its director of legal, Rekiya Shuaibu, Esq who confirmed the non existence of the school that issued Etteh the diploma certificate.
Meanwhile, Gyang Dung Esq who represented the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, also tendered the disputed certificates that were submitted by Etteh to INEC.
The testimonies set the stage for the star witness – Rt Hon. Eseme Eyiboh who entered the witness box to adopt his witness’ statement on oath and reply to Etteh’s response.
Rt Hon Ette’s counsel, Ekpenyong Ntekim Esq met a resilient and sharp witness in Eyiboh.
In the face of barrage of questions from INEC and PDP lawyers, Eyiboh remain resolute, consistent and vehement in pursuit of his claims.
Curiously, public commentators are yet to unravel the reason (s) Hon Okpolump Etteh was absent in court and declined to enter defence and defend himself of the weighty allegations bordering on forgeries with preponderance of strong evidence.
The Tribunal headed by Hon Justice Kudirat Jose with Hon Justice Philomena Nweke and Hon Justice Mua’zu Abubakar as members has adjourned for exchange of briefs of arguments.