House of Representatives Member-elect for Eket/Onna/Esit Eket/Ibeno Federal Constituency, Hon. Okpulupm Etteh of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has failed to open his defence in the case of certificate forgery preferred against him by the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate, Hon Eseme Eyibo.
Eyiboh had dragged the member-elect before the tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, challenging his declaration as the winner of the February 25 elections on the grounds that he was not qualified to have contested the said election, having presented forged certificates with inconsistency in his name as documents submitted to the INEC.
The petitioner is also asking the tribunal to declare him winner on grounds that he scored the majority of lawful votes cast at the Polling Units and that majority of his votes obtained from the Units and the results as announced and pasted at the Units were unlawfully excluded at the Collation Centres to the advantage of Etteh.
But at the resumed hearing, Etteh, who was to open his defence after the Petitioner (Eyiboh) had closed his case on Monday, failed to appear before the tribunal despite the fact that he had earlier said he will testify as the only witness.
Testifying before the tribunal, one Ozemene Goodluck James said to be the Registrar of Temple Gate Polytechnic, Aba (formerly School of Management Technology), presented documents, attestation letter, admission form, result after completion of the program, ND Certificate and application he wrote to get the certificate to back up his claim that Etteh attended the school.
However, when cross-examined by counsel to the petitioner, Jumbo Umoh Esq, James admitted that Etteh got his FSLC in 1988 and two years after primary education, he gained admission into the polytechnic in 1990.
He also admitted before the tribunal that Etteh got WAEC in 2002, ten years after he got his ND.
However, when confronted with names of tertiary institutions (public and private) in the country from 1926 till date, neither School of Management Technology nor Temple Gate Polytechnic was found.
Therefore, the Tribunal rejected the governing council attendance register tendered by the 1st Respondent.
A Deputy Registrar, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, one Alexander Anukam, who testified as second witness tendered documents that included, IT, letter of admission for HND, certificate in marketing from the Polytechnic Oko, pre-national results from Oko, statement of results from Institute of Management and Technology, Aba.
However, counsel to the Petitioner objected to the documents, noting that there is no admission letter to back up the claim.
He also objected to the pre-HND result and submitted that there is no result for admission into any tertiary institution in the country, not to talk of a Federal Polytechnic like Oko.
The Deputy Director of Examination Certification Division, Ministry of Education, Akwa Ibom State, Akaninyene Inyang, also testified as another witness to the PDP on the matter.
He tendered before the tribunal, First School Leaving Certificate, FSLC, which the ministry issued in 1998 to Hon. Etteh upon completion of primary school education in the state, submitting that the document was not forged.
But when confronted with the FSLC result and the birth certificate as filed before INEC, Inyang failed to reconcile the inconsistency in both the name on the date of birth and the name on FSLC.
The fourth witness from the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Mr. Oku Johnny, who identified himself as an administrative officer, also testified before the tribunal.
He submitted some documents to back up his claim.
On Monday during the resume hearing, Eyiboh subpoenaed the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, an agency empowered to approve, regulate, accredit and sanction Polytechnics, Monotechnics and related institutions.
The NBTE was represented by its director of legal, Rekiya Shuaibu, Esq who confirmed the non-existence of the school that issued Etteh the diploma certificate.
Meanwhile, Gyang Dung Esq, who represented the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, also tendered the disputed certificates that were submitted by Etteh to the commission.
The Tribunal headed by Hon Justice Kudirat Jose, with Hon Justice Philomena Nweke and Hon Justice Mua’zu Abubakar as members, adjourned for exchange of briefs of arguments.