A former spokesman for the House of Representatives, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh has expressed optimism in getting justice at the Appeal Court even as the Akwa Ibom State National Assembly Election Tribunal dismissed his case against his opponent, Hon. Okpolupm Etteh.
A three man panel of justices sitting in Uyo on Thursday in the elections petition tribunal fir the Eket/ Esit Eket/Onna/ Ibeno federal constituency brought before it by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Eyiboh against the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Okpulupm Etteh dismissed the petition on the grounds that the petitioner failed to prove the allegations of forgery.
But reacting to the judgement, Hon. Eyiboh argued that the “Tribunal totally avoided making any pronouncement on petitioner’s arguments that since the WASC was not obtained before the ND and other certificates, the OND was a false document that told a lie with intent to deceive and therefore amounted to forgery as held by many Supreme Court decisions cited by petitioner’s counsel”.
Speaking through his counsel, Uyo-0bong Jumbo Esq, the former lawmaker said there are very many areas of interest in the judgement, which would be used to upturn the verdict at the higher court.
On the instant areas of contention, he said the “Tribunal upheld the petitioner’s objection that, since Election Tribunal matter is sui generis, Okpolupm Etteh’s, defence was filed outside the statutory 21 days allowance and same was struck out in favour of Eyiboh. This means he had no defence before the Tribunal.
“Tribunal upheld the petitioner’s objection that Okpolump Etteh’s reply on points of law was in excess of the allowed 10 pages and in violation of the Election Petition practice direction and same was struck out in favour of Eyiboh.
“Tribunal upheld the petitioner’s objection to the 2nd respondent(PDP) whose reply on points of law was a re-argument and was also in excess of the 10 pages allowance by the practice direction. Same was struck out in favour of Eyiboh.
“Tribunal upheld petitioner’s contention that it was impossible for Okpolupm Etteh to have obtained his First School Leaving Certificate(Primary School)in 1988 and gained admission into the Polytechnic in 1990 for his OND just 2 years interval without a secondary school education or equivalent
“Tribunal agreed with the petitioner that at the time Okpolupm Etteh said he gained admission for OND in 1990, he had no secondary school certificate or any qualifying requirements to gain admission into a tertiary institution. He obtained his WASC in 2002, 7years after his NYSC in 1997.
“Tribunal agreed that WASC or equivalent was a condition for admission into tertiary institution .
“Tribunal held that although Okpolupm had no defence to the petition, he can rely on what PDP filed and its witnesses.
“Tribunal overuled petitioner and admitted and relied on documents tendered by PDP even when none of the documents were pleaded by 2nd respondent(PDP) but only Okpolupm whose defence was already struck out thus the pleadings on those documents were no longer existent.
“Tribunal agreed with petitioner that since Okpolupm Etteh asserted that the School of Management he obtained his OND had changed its name, he had the burden to prove that such a school existed but later changed its name.
“Tribunal agreed the name of the school was non existent on the list of approved institutions but that evidence of Eyiboh that he went to Abia state and confirmed the school of management and did not exist anywhere was hearsay.
Regardless of the Petitioner Counsel’s argument with Supreme Court authorities that, a document made falsely with intent to deceive amounts to forgery, the Tribunal deviated to rely on another Supreme Court authority cited by respondents that to prove forgery petitioner ought to have tendered two set of documents being one original and the forged one to enable a comparison and that since petitioner did not do so he failed to prove forgery and the case was dismissed.
The petitioner’s case was that, the school of management did not even exist anywhere and no original could thus be obtained.
“On the difference between the names in the Primary School Certificate(FSLC)and other certificates presented by Okpolupm Etteh, the tribunal held that petitioner ought to have called as witness any person who claimed to have been the owner of the first school certificate”, he submitted.
The three man tribunal comprises Hon Justice Kudirat Jose as chairman, Hon Justice M`uazu Abubakar and Hon Justice Philomena Nweke, members