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Akwa Ibom Tribunal: How Etido Inyang Demystified APC’s Lawyer

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Etido InyangThe belief that propaganda does no man or society good is a universal reality; in fact, Malcolm X, the African-American human rights activist was within the right

perspective when he said:  “I am for the truth, no matter who tells it. I am for justice, no matter who it’s for or against”.

During the World War II (1939-45), Adolf Hitler, the architect of the war and Head of the German Republic engaged the services of Paul Joseph Goebell, a Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) as Reich of Propaganda Minister.

Goebell’s propaganda promoted anti-Semitism and attacks on the Christians and laid the foundation for “total war” including closing down of businesses which were indisposed to the war effort. It was this system-induced propaganda orchestrated by Goebell which strengthened Hitler in his pro-Aryan race and war policy which led to his self-destruct. Lies are indeed, sinking sand.

In Akwa Ibom State, the use of propaganda and falsehood by the opposition All Progressives Congress to mislead the innocent public reached its climax during the 2015 governorship election, which the people unanimously chose the path of reason and justice and voted for Udom Gabriel Emmanuel as their Governor. 

Unlike the PDP presidential standard bearer in the 2015 election, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who expressly congratulated his APC counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari, the APC Gubernatorial candidate, Umana Okon Umana, perhaps, in rhythm of falsehood churned out by his propaganda machinery challenged the people’s collective verdict and took victorious counterpart, Governor Emmanuel to the Governorship Petitions Tribunal, in what many have come to identify as a wild goose chase. 

In his speculative petition, Mr Umana contended that no elections were conducted in Akwa Ibom State, and most of the witnesses he hired, fruitlessly failed to establish his claim beyond mere speculative rhetoric. 

Then came the time for the 1st respondent, Governor Udom Emmanuel to defend the people’s sacred mandate through his witnesses at the tribunal. Among the coterie of persons who testified to the fact that there was election in the state, were Akparawa Godwin Ntukudeh who is the state commissioner for Transport, Maxwell Ojoko, Engr. Etido Inyang [pictured above], and the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Special Duties, among other political gladiators.

 Flamboyantly clad in  a dark- color Italian  suit with an enchanting bow-tie and armed with the power of factual articulation, Etido Inyang’s testimony could at best be described as ‘a masterly display’ during evidence -in -chief and cross-examination,  in that “it nailed the final coffin” of the APC in the tribunal. 

When asked if he participated in the elections, the former 19 year Slumberger staff responded in the affirmative. He took time to educate the tribunal on the peaceful conduct of the election throughout Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District and reiterated that after he heard on the radio of the peaceful conduct of the election, he received guests that trooped into his Ikot Ekpene home in solidarity.

During cross-examination, Engr Inyang also shed light on salient issues. According to him: “I have lived in Ikot Ekpene, Port Harcourt and Houston… I worked in Slumberger for 19 years…I would be surprised if anyone says there was no election in Ikot Ekpene. After the election, I got updates on the peaceful conduct of the election”.

In an effort to discredit Engr. Inyang’s testimony, the petitioner’s lawyer “manufactured” a police report which showed that someone was murdered during the election and that shootings were recorded somewhere in Obot Akara of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District.

Apparently desperate in seeking loopholes in Etido Inyang’s account, the petitioner’s lawyer Dayo Akinlaja, asked the Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management to read the police account, which he did without hesitation while maintaining that he did not witness or hear about the incidents since none of them took place in Ikot Ekpene local government on the said day.

That the police report was rejected by the judge as exhibit is not the crux here, what is nonsensical and illogical in the lawyer’s argument is that the murder of one person and shootings at a particular unit in a senatorial district could not impinged on the credibility of the election. 

Engr Inyang did justice to the question as to whether the entire Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District recorded a peaceful election: “I was duly accredited in my unit using card reader and I left after voting… I learnt elections were generally peaceful in my senatorial district”, submitted Engr Inyang.

Obviously embarrassed at the empirical account and tutoring on the electoral process by Engr Etido Inyang, the petitioner’s counsel, Chief Akinlaja ran out of patience and began shouting at him. Engr Inyang chose to maintain his calm in order to dominate the pace of the cross-examination. 

The tribunal judge, acting on the objection by the 1st respondent’s lead counsel Paul Usoro (SAN) called Akinlaja to order, citing relevant sections of the law. He advised Chief Akinlaja to be civil and be guided by the fundamental principles if the law in cross-examining witnesses. 

One thing is certain about Engineer Etido Inyang’s testimony and composure: it demystified the petitioner’s lawyer who thought he could use the Special Duties commissioner to have a legal field day.

With the level of intellectual articulation by Eng. Etido Inyang and other Governor Udom Emmanuel’s witnesses, vis-a -vis the governorship election, the question as to whether the governorship elections were conducted in Ikot Ekpene and by extension Akwa Ibom State, was brought to a final rest

Using Ikot Ekpene as a case study, some fundamental questions should be pondered on: did the governorship election actually take place in Akwa Ibom State on the 11th of April, 2015? No doubt the answer is YES.

Does the murder of 1 person and the prevalence of shootings in one or two villages as contained in a “manufactured” police report tantamount to “widespread irregularities” in a state that has 31 local government areas? The answer again is NO.

Does propaganda and mendacious falsehood have the propensity to affect the verdict of tribunal judges? The answer to this is NO. That is because the law relies on fact, or the strength of evidence – having been proven beyond reasonable doubt. 

Finally, may I make appeal to the APC in Akwa Ibom to make heed to the above words Malcolm X, by giving truth the sanctity it deserves as no gain made from falsehood can stand the test of time. 

Uwemedimoh Umanah, a Diplomatic Scholar, Peace & Conflict/Development/Public Affairs Expert, writes in this piece from Maitama, Abuja

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