By Benjamin Jimmy
Member representing Eket/ONNA/Esit Eket/Ibeno Federal Constituency, Rt. Hon. Okpolupm Etteh, on Thursday, urged the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State Capital, to dismiss the allegation of certificate forgery brought before it by the Candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the March 2023 Presidential and National Assembly election, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, for lacking in merit.
Counsel to the first respondent, Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim, made the prayers while responding to the argument by the Counsel to the petitioner, Barrister Jumbo Udom, that a witness from School of Management and Technology, now Temple Gate Polytechnic, Aba, who testified before the tribunal that Rt. Hon. Etteh obtained his OND certificate from the school, had admitted that he would not be surprised if the institution is not accredited by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
Barrister Ntekim told the Tribunal that contrary to the petitioner’s argument and submission, all the witnesses who were brought from Temple Gate Polytechnic, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, and Examination Certification Division of the Ministry of Education, Akwa Ibom State, testified with documents as evidence that Rt. Hon. Etteh, indeed, obtained his certificates from these institutions.
Ntekim noted that all the witnesses who testified proved that the first respondent legally obtained his certificates from the institutions whose certificates he presented to INEC for screening.
Counsel to Rt. Hon. Etteh further told the Tribunal that it was rather surprising that the petitioner could not do due diligence to the case, citing his failure to produce witnesses from any of the institutions he claimed issued fake certificates to Rt. Hon. Etteh.
Barrister Ntekim, therefore, urged the Tribunal to dismiss Hon. Eyiboh’s claims, saying the House of Representatives member has no case to answer.
After hearing all the arguments and submissions from the petitioner, first, second and third respondents, the three-man Panel of Justices, led by Justice Kudirat Jose, however reserved judgment on a date that would be communicated to the parties in the case.