TheNational Assembly elections petition tribunal sitting in Uyo was last Saturday stunned by revelations by a witness called by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Alloysius William, that the Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Mike Igini, instructed him to cancel votes that had already been collated for the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Mr Chris Ekpenyong of the PDP was declared winner of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District election by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Akpabio is challenging Ekpenyong’s declaration at the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Akwa Ibom State and had presented his witnesses in the case. Ekpenyong had also called his witnesses and closed his case.
At the resumed hearing of the petition last Saturday for the PDP to open its case, the tribunal was shocked by revelations by Dr William, a lecturer in the University of Uyo, that results which had already been collated at the local government and senatorial district offices of INEC and which showed that Akpabio had won convincingly were cancelled on the orders of Igini in his office in Uyo.
William made these startling revelations during cross-examination by Mr S. I Ameh, the lead counsel to Akpabio.
The PDP witness told the tribunal that as the returning officer for Essien Udim, Akpabio’s home local government area he personally prepared the result sheet, which he entered the score for the candidate of the APC as 61,329 votes while the PDP candidate scored 9,050 votes.
The witness said: “I agree that adjustments were done. These adjustments reflected in the final scores. The adjustments were done outside Essien Udim LGA. They were done at INEC office in Uyo.”
When asked to confirm the earlier testimony of a witness of Ekpenyong, the PDP candidate, Mr Anny Asikpo, that he (the Returning Officer) had at some point disappeared from the Collation centre, a dazed William said: “I did not abscond.”
Another witness, a corps member, who was a presiding officer during the elections, Mr Endurance Zachary, had claimed that the elections were marred by violence and he was coerced to make entries, which gave the APC victory.
However, on cross examination, he admitted that he did not make any report to anyone about his claim that materials were hijacked by thugs. He also admitted that he was forced to write his name and signature but was stunned when Mr Ameh, counsel to Akpabio, showed him documents he claimed he was coerced to write his name and he wrote his three names: Ikhuenbor Endurance Zachary, whereas in his witness depositions that was not forced to write, he used two names only: Endurance Zachary.
The case was subsequently adjourned to tomorrow for presentation of more witnesses by the PDP and INEC.