Alleged Electoral Fraud: Court To Decide On Legal Representation On July 19
The Akwa Ibom State High Court (4) sitting in the state capital, Uyo has adjourned a case of alleged electoral fraud instituted by the Independent National Commission (INEC) against Prof Ignatius Uduk.
The court says INEC is expected to respond to its decision to withdraw the letter introducing Clement Onwenwunor as the principal counsel representing the Commission.
Counsel to the accused, Abasiodiong Ekpenyong had opposed the replacement of Kpoobari Sigalo with Clement Onwenwunor, who had in a previous sitting presented a letter to the court introducing himself as the lead counsel for INEC.
Thereafter, the Presiding Judge, Justice Archibong Archibong, on Thursday adjourned the case to July 19, to enable INEC respond on point of law to its decision.
Ekpenyong argued that the document filed by the prosecution was not done as known to law and provided for, by the Akwa Ibom State criminal law.
He stated that the fiat was authorized by the Attorney General of the State instead of the Federal Government, saying INEC was a Federal agency.
He further argued that since the Attorney General of the State issued the fiat for the prosecution, he usurped the powers of the Attorney General of the Federation, and as such, there was no charge before the court, and asked that the case be dismissed.
In his response, Counsel to INEC, Clement Onwenwunor told the court to adopt the rejoinder filed on July 12, in respect to the objection, adding that counsel to the accused did not cite the law that was breeched.
He said that since the objection to his fiat was presented verbally, he also responded verbally, and that if the court considered the submissions of the accused, it should also consider his own.
He further stated that the objection to the effect that the fiat must be obtained from the Attorney General of the Federation was not correct, adding that the powers of the AG of the Federation according to the 1999 constitution as amended, can be exercised at any time.
He argued that he does not need a fiat from the AG of the Federation as the State can authorise a private practitioner.
After submissions from both Counsels, the court accepted the fiat sent in by INEC’s counsel but the counsel to the accused opposed the acceptance, on the premise that the name of the practitioner was not stated in the letter.
To this end, Counsel to INEC sought for the withdrawal of the letter for proper filing, and the court granted the request.