Etiebet And Attah: APC Anticipated Bombshells That Never Exploded… -By Robert Benson.

The appearance of former Petroleum
Minister, Atuekong Don Etiebet and former
Governor, Obong Victor Attah at the Akwa
Ibom State Governorship Election Tribunal as
star witnesses of the governorship
candidate of the All Progressives Congress
was hyped by the APC propaganda
machinery as the bombshell that would tilt
the ongoing case at the tribunal to its
favour.
Days before their appearance, the social
media was agog with hyperbolic
expectations of how their mere presence at
the tribunal would win the case for the APC.
But when they appeared before Justices A.S.
Umar, K.O. Dawodu and P. T. Kwahar, their
testimonies only added to the string of
inconsistencies and contradictions that have
been the lot of the witnesses of the APC
since the Tribunal began sitting. It turned
out to be an anti-climax.
The central theme of the submission of the
APC witnesses have been the worn out
refrain that there was no election in Akwa
Ibom State on April 11, 2015. But each of
the witnesses they have called after
thorough cross-examination by the Counsels
of Mr Udom Emmanuel, the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC) has
added to their confusion and in most cases
turn out to confirm that elections were
actually and they participated. In fact, an APC
witness, Engr Emmanuel Alfred was so
audacious to tell the Tribunal that anyone
who appeared as a witness in the Tribunal
and claimed there was no election on April
11, should be regarded as a liar.
The appearance of Atuekong Etiebet and
Obong Attah merely added to the
contradiction of the APC. Indeed few days
earlier, Etiebet’s nephew, Okokon Etiebet
who shares the same polling unit with the
former Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples
Party, ANPP, who had also testified as a
witness of the APC, had accepted that
elections actually took place in his polling
unit and ward.
This was also a material contradiction of the
claims of the APC gubernatorial candidate,
Mr Umana who had claimed in his main
petition that no electoral material got to
Oruk Anam on the election day. Analysts
wondered what the judges would take if
someone who was at his polling unit on his
election day agreed that election materials
were distributed and sent out by officials of
the INEC, and another probably relying on
hearsay and staying several kilometers
away, maintained that no material got to the
Local Government Area. Who is to be
believed?
Etiebet’s appearance was not without some
drama. To prove his case, Etiebet had sought
to tender some newspapers publication
which he had made (lawyers at the Tribunal
claimed he made the publication in
anticipation of the his appearance as a
witness at the Tribunal). But his attempt at
tendering the newspapers crumbled like a
pack of cards because it did not meet the
legal requirements of such documents being
admitted in court. They were subsequently
thrown out.
Then come what APC had thought would be
the bombshell: a video recording of himself
purportedly on election day at INEC office in
Uyo chanting the same refrain of no election
in Akwa Ibom State. But apart from Etiebet’s
testimony, there was nothing to indicate
where the video which he claimed was shot
by Personal Assistant, was recorded. Nor
was there an indication to the date it was
shot. The video shows Atuekong Etiebet
stating that there was no election anywhere
in Akwa Ibom State on April 11, but Etiebet
and other APC witnesses who toe this line
have not been able to explain how an APC
candidate representing Orue Offong Oruko
State Constituency won his election which
was conducted on the same day. Analysts
asked of what legal weight it was if Etiebet
made a video by himself and proclaims there
was no election. And the video was
supposed to be bombshell!
Then enter Obong Attah. Like Etiebet he also
“stormed” the Tribunal with a video
evidence and it became apparent that they
had made the videos in anticipation of court
process. With some humour, Attah said that
someone had recorded him using an ipad,
and that he was once asked to show his
tablet and he thought it was some kind of
drug not knowing that the person was
referring to an ipad. Like Etiebet’s there was
nothing significant about the Attah’s
personal video: no indication as to the date,
and the crowd who stood by him could
have been hired.
It is also significant that Atuekong Etiebet
and Obong Attah agreed under cross-
examination that their stories of no election
in Akwa Ibom State were mere hearsays as
they were confined only to their polling
units on election day since they did not have
accreditation and observer tags to move
about to see what had taken place in other
units.
Then Attah was asked why he had
campaigned for a candidate of another
party while he claimed to be a chieftain of
the PDP. Silence, then a feeble answer of
wanting to see things move well in the state.
He was also asked why in 2003 he had
caused his co-witness, Etiebet to leave PDP.
Another round of silence then another
feeble answer of if Etiebet had complained
of injustice, he (Attah) was not the one who
meted the injustice to him.
Before they mounted the witness box, many
APC supporters at the Tribunal were full of
anticipation that Atuekong Etiebet and
Obong Attah had secret videos that would
nail Mr Udom Emmanuel and the PDP. Indeed
they had expected that the bombshell that
the duo would drop at the tribunal would
bring the trial to an abrupt end. A certain
young man who claimed he came with
Obong Attah had said the former was
coming to show the video of how PDP
hijacked ballot boxes and rigged. You can
imagine the surprise and disappointment of
everyone at the anti-climax of the duo
showing video recordings of themselves to
prove that there was no election in Akwa
Ibom State on April 11.
Mr Benson Writes from Abuja

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