The Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has reserved ruling till Thursday August 20 to decide whether the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Mr Umana Umana, can invite additional witnesses and present fresh documents in the prosecution of their petition.
The party is challenging the election of Governor Emmanuel Udom.
At the resumed hearing of the petition filed by the APC and its candidate, the Tribunal considered three applications, one from the petitioner and two from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Governor Emmanuel Udom, the Akwa Ibom State Governor.
In his application, counsel to the APC and its candidate, Mr Wole Olanipekun, argued that his client was not bringing fresh evidence, but carrying out the earlier order granted in favour of his client and his party on May 12, which authorised them to inspect the materials used for the April 11 governorship election.
In opposition, counsel to Governor Emmanuel Udohm, Mr Paul Usoro, asked the Tribunal to reject the motion, on the ground that the petitioner is trying to ambush other parties in the suit.
He submitted that the petitioner did not furnish the Tribunal with the said documents, but merely listed them.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, Chief Oyeachi Ikpeazu also argued that the petitioner ought to have included the list of the said witnesses and documents while filing the petition at the inception.
He said the move by the petitioner was prejudicial, no matter the intent and purposes for seeking to call more witnesses.
Also, the Governor and his party, the PDP, challenged the competence of the petition and the locus of the APC and its candidate, Mr Umana in filing the petition, as his nomination was in breach of the Electoral Act.
The defendants asked the Tribunal to dismiss the petition on the ground that pre-hearing notice fee of 100 Naira was not paid, and as such the petition could be deemed to have been abandoned.
The Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Sadiq Umar, reserved ruling in the applications to a date yet to be determined.
He ruled that the Tribunal would no longer entertain any other motion except “where it becomes extremely expedient”.