The Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to move all polling documents and result sheets used in the April 11 governorship poll from Uyo, the state capital, to Abuja, within 10 days.
Tribunal Chairman Justice Sadiq Umar gave the order yesterday in Abuja in a ruling he delivered at the tribunal’s resumed sitting.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Justice Umar-led three-man tribunal is sitting over a petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Umana Umana, who are asking the tribunal to nullify the election of the Governor Emmanuel Udom of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In his ruling, Justice Umar said the tribunal judiciously exercised its discretion in granting Umana’s application, that the polling documents, result sheets and other materials used in the election be moved to Abuja.
He ordered that the election materials be moved to the INEC headquarters within 10 days to allow the petitioner access them.
The tribunal chairman directed the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to provide tight security for INEC when the materials are being moved.
Justice Umar gave Umanna and his lawyers 14 days to inspect the election materials when they arrive INEC headquarters in Abuja.
The tribunal chairman also ordered the police and the State Security Services to jointly provide security to Umana and his legal team, when they are carrying out the inspection of the election materials.
Umana’s lead counsel Wole Olanipekun had argued that INEC was frustrating the efforts of his client’s forensic team from accessing the polling documents in Uyo.
The lawyer sought an order directing INEC to move the election materials to the tribunal’s secretariat in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court at Maitama, Abuja.
Emmanuel’s lead counsel Adegboyega Awomolo opposed the application on the ground that it was filed out of the time stipulated by the Electoral Act.
Awomolo argued that the application was defective because he had filed a motion challenging the directive for moving the tribunal from Uyo to Abuja.
Source: The Nation