Yesterday, the 30th of November 2017, marked the date of the long-awaited judgement in the dispute regarding the PDP Primaries for the North-East Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom State.
After the Judgement of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, the Appellant, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, sought to rectify the several manifest inconsistencies in the judgement by appealing through his Counsel Mr Paul Usoro SAN, to the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal, in giving a detailed and well-considered judgement, dealt with a wide range of issues arising from the Appeal. The first determination of the Court was regarding the Preliminary Objection to the Appeal raised by the 1st Respondent. He had sought a dismissal of the Appeal on the grounds that the Notice of Appeal upon which the Appeal was based was incompetent. In his counter-arguments to the Preliminary Objection, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN had emphasised to the Court that the competence of a Notice of Appeal is not determined by the Records of Appeal as an Appeal is a constitutional right as long as the said right was exercised within the prescribed time limit. It was further argued by Mr Usoro that the Courts were inclined towards substantial justice as opposed to technical justice and urged the Court to dismiss the Preliminary Objection and determine the Appeal on its Merits. In giving its Judgement on this point, the Court agreed with all the arguments of Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN and noted in addition that the Learned Silk had ensured that the proper steps had been taken to regularize the processes. The Preliminary Objection was therefore dismissed and the Court proceeded to determine the Appeal on its merits.
In delivering its judgement on the substance of the Appeal, the Court extensively analyzed the arguments canvassed by the parties. Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN had earlier submitted that the trail of evidence adduced by the Appellant was neither broken nor controverted at any point in time. He pointed to admissions made by the 1st Respondent regarding the officer appointed for the purpose of conducting the election and reminded the Court that the same officer had affirmed the facts as adduced by the Appellant. He further argued, providing several legal authorities in support, that the 1st Respondent had failed to prove his claims satisfactorily at the Lower Court and submitted that the Lower Court had therefore exceeded its jurisdiction when it gave judgement to the 1st Respondent. These arguments formed the basis for the decision of the Court of Appeal and it was unanimously held by the Honourable Justices that the decision of the Lower Court was perverse, misplaced in Law and unsupported by the facts and evidence adduced by the parties.
Following from the determinations and judgement of the Court of Appeal, the victory of Mr. Bassey Albert Akpan at the PDP primaries has been reaffirmed and the decision of the Lower Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State has been reversed.