The immediate past Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, on Wednesday opened his defence before the Akwa-Ibom National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja, where his election as the Senator representing Akwa-Ibom North-West Senatorial District is being challenged by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate in the March 28 poll, Inibehe Okori.

Akpabio of the Peoples Democratic Party opened his case on Wednesday with two witnesses, one of whom was the National Secretary of the PDP, Prof. Adewale Oladipo.

The other witness was the Chairman of the PDP’s Electoral Panel for the screening of National Assembly aspirants, Olatubosun Oshuntokun.

Akpabio’s counsel, Paul Usoro (SAN), who led the two witnesses in evidence, said he had proposed to call 25 witnesses.

At the Wednesday’s proceedings, Osunkotun said he was chairman of the five-man panel that conducted the Akwa Ibom North-West PDP National Assembly primaries in Akwa Ibom State.
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He said he signed all the results and reports of the primaries as the returning officer.

Under cross-examination the petitioner’s counsel, Assam Assam (SAN), asked Osuntokun to sign his signature five times on a plain sheet of paper. He did and the specimen signature was admitted by the tribunal and marked as exhibit R2.

Asked if he knew his party had sent to INEC the prescribed nomination Form of senatorial candidates, he said he was not aware of that.

Oladipo, a professor of Nuclear Analytical Techniques, denied knowledge of whether or not the required number of registered voters in the ward of former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, endorsed him as the party’s candidate for the state’s North-West Senatorial District.

While being crossed-examined by Assam, Oladipo said he would not know if registered voters in Akpabio’s ward endorsed the Form EC4B4 as required.

Assam asked if it was the requirement that a certain number of registered voters in a candidate’s ward must endorse Form EC4B4 to nominate him to contest a position, Prof Oladipo said yes.

When asked how many registered voters from Akpabio’s ward endorsed his Form EC4B4, the PDP scribe said he would not know.

“It is not my job to know that. It is the duty of the National Organizing Secretary to keep such information,” he said.

In his statement, which he adopted yesterday, Oladipo insisted that Akpabio was his party’s candidate for the election. He said his party won the election with a wide margin.

He said the primary was won by Akpabio, insisting that the primary was fair.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Goddy Anunihu, adjourned till Thursday for continuation of Akpabio’s case.