Akpabio’s counsel wrote my statement – Witness tells Tribunal
…As tribunal Warns Witnesses to Be Truthful
By Kpebo Thomas
As the National Assembly Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Friday warned witnesses against attempts to deceive the tribunal, in order not to spoil the case of their Counsel, an APC agent Bassey Ekanem has admitted that his statement under oath, was actually written by Senator Godswill Akpabio’s lawyer, Sunday Ameh(SAN).
At the resumed sitting of the Tribunal in the petition brought by Senator Godswill Akpabio and the APC against the election of Senator Chris Ekpenyong of the PDP, the tribunal decided to warn witnesses to say the truth as documents and facts are sacred.
A ward agent, Bassey Ekanem, who was docked at 12:54pm shocked the tribunal when he could not read from a section of a document he earlier admitted as his own written witness statement, forcing an impression before the tribunal that he is unfamiliar with its content.
During cross examination, Uchenna Njoku, counsel to Christopher Ekpenyong, asked the ruffled Ekanem if he had read ‘his’ witness statement, “which was prepared by his counsel, Ameh,” as he appeared to be inconsistent in his answers and gave information paralleled to the content.
Ekanem, replied “yes”, inadvertently admitting that it was written by the said lawyer, before being asked to read a paragraph from it.
Ekanem struggled for minutes on the document, while the judge, who probably didn’t want to delay proceedings further than necessary, attempted to help him pronounce some words from the statement.
Counsel to the petitioner, Ameh, rose in objection to rescue his witness, but was waved down by the tribunal chairman, Justice W. O Akanbi who retorted, “we have not seen any reason you should stand up”.
Ekanem, who was thrown off balance also told the tribunal that he wouldn’t be aware of any lie told him by polling unit agents in his ward, as he was not physically present in those other units.
When Solomon Umoh, Counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party, presented Ekanem with Exhibit P408, as documents containing polling units that were cancelled by INEC, Ekanem affirmed before the tribunal, that he has seen 7 affected polling units, adding that there was no indication on the register that accreditation took place.
Earlier, Ifeoluwa Ojedirun, Counsel to INEC while cross examining another witness Godwin Etokakpan, told the tribunal that the witness has seen 14 polling units in his ward, which were cancelled by INEC in Exhibit R352.
Etokakpan, who tried to dodge questions regarding accreditation in his ward was warned by the tribunal, that “saying he has seen something when he hasn’t and vice versa would affect his counsel and as such should say what he has seen on the documents”
He INEC Counsel reaffirmed before the tribunal that cancellation of national assembly election results in some units in Essien Udim were due to inconsistency between the total number of votes cast and number of registered voters on voters registers.
Earlier on Friday, another All Progressives Congress chieftain, Barr. Paulinus Idio, admitted before the tribunal that there was no indication of voter’s accreditation in 17 of the 20 units in his ward, Okon.
On if he was surprised that accreditation was not done at several polling units in his ward as seen on the voters’ registers marked Exhibits R112-R126, which he perused in court, he said he was not surprised but however affirmed that he knows that accreditation by voters register and smart card readers were necessary conditions before voting could take place.
On whether elections were duly conducted in the entire twenty units, he replied that since he was not a polling unit agent he solely relied on the reports of the respective unit agents who told him that elections held in those units.
Five witnesses were presented by Senator Akpabio’s lawyer today, bringing the total number to seven.
The case has been adjourned to June 19 for further hearing.