By BASHIR ADEFAKA
Governorship Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 election in Akwa Ibom State, South South Nigeria, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno, was Thursday January 19, 2023 affirmed as duly elected in the May 25, 2022 governorship primary election of the party.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja, while delivering its judgement on the case, upheld the judgment of a Federal High Court in Uyo, which had earlier dismissed the suit for lack of merit, according to Channels Television.
Akan Okon, who was one of the governorship aspirants on the 25 May 2022 primary of the party in the state had asked a Federal High Court in Uyo to disqualify Pastor Eno over an alleged certificate forgery.
Mr Akan had alleged that the PDP candidate forged the West African Examination Certificate (WAEC), which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The lower court judge, Justice Agatha Okeke, had dismissed the suit for lack of merit and awarded the sum of N15 million against Mr Okon.
The judge had ruled that Mr Okon’s argument was based on assumption and that he was not able to prove to the court that Mr Eno’s certificate was forged.
Dissatisfied, Mr Okon filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Abuja.
A three-man Appeal Court panel led by Elfreda William-Dawodu upheld the lower court’s judgment and dismissed the suit.
The appellate court, however, disagreed with the lower court on the award of N15 million against Mr Okon, and therefore reduced it to N5 million.
Ironically, Eno and Okon were both cabinet members in Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration and resigned only because of requirements of the law to be able to contest the governorship primary.
A total of 13 aspirants were cleared to participate in the PDP primary but two major contenders – Bassey Albert, a senator, and Onofiok Luke, a federal lawmaker, boycotted the exercise citing court order and non-participation of statutory delegates respectively.
Mr Okon, however, participated in the primary but got only three votes while Mr Eno had 993 votes from the 1018 delegates accredited for the exercise.
Eno is Governor Emmanuel’s preferred successor. The governor unveiled him to party leaders in the state months before the primary.