…Gained Admission For OND Two Years After Completion Of Primary Education
It was drama and inconsistency galore on Wednesday at the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
At the resumed hearing at the tribunal in the petition brought by former spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, of the All Progressives’ Congress, APC, challenging the election of Hon Okpolump Etteh of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, for Eketa Federal constituency of Akwa Ibom State, more revelations came to the fore on how Etteh obtained the Ordinary National Diploma, OND, from a non-existing private polytechnic in Aba, before getting his West African School Certificate, WASC.
The first drama of the day was that the first respondent, Etteh, was to open his defence, after the petitioner, Eyiboh, had closed his case on Monday, but he conspicuously failed to appear before the tribunal, despite the fact that he had earlier said he would testify as the only witness.
Testifying before the tribunal, one Ozemene Goodluck James, who claimed that he is the Registrar of Temple Gate Polytechnic, Aba, formerly School of Management Technology, presented documents, including attestation letter, admission form, result after completion of the programme, ND Certificate and application he wrote to get the certificate to back up his claim that Etteh attended the school.
However, when crossed examined by counsel to the petitioner, Jumbo Umoh Esq, James admitted that Etteh got his First School Leaving Certificate, FSLC, in 1988 and two years after his primary education, he gained admission into the polytechnic in 1990. He also admitted before the tribunal that Etteh got WASC in 2002, 10 years after he got his OND.
But when confronted with names of tertiary institutions – public and private – in the country from 1926 till date, neither the School of Management Technology nor Temple Gate Polytechnic was found.
The tribunal rejected the governing council attendance register tendered by the first respondent.
In another testimony at the tribunal, a second witness and Deputy Registrar, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, one Alexander Anukam, tendered documents that included IT, letter of admission for Higher National Diploma, HND, in marketing from the Federal 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.
Akaninyene Inyang, Deputy Director of Examination, Certification Division, Ministry of Education, Akwa Ibom State, also testified as another witness to the PDP on the matter.
He tendered before the tribunal, the 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 was taken unawares and sweating at the witness box as he could not reconcile the inconsistency in both the name on the date of birth and the name on FSLC.
The fourth witness from the PDP 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.
Recall that the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, had testified before the tribunal on Monday and denied existence of the School of Management and Technology, Aba.
The petitioner, Eyiboh, had approached the tribunal, alleging that Etteh presented forged certificates to the Independent Natıonal Electoral Commission, INEC, thus making him unqualified to have contested the election for the Eket federal constituency seat.
Hon Eyiboh’s petition is premised on the single ground of ineligibility.
Earlier on Monday during hearing, Eyiboh had subpoenaed the National Board on 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, who confirmed the non-existence of the school that issued Etteh the diploma certificate he presented to INEC.
Meanwhile, Gyang Dung, Esq, who represented the INEC, also tendered the disputed certificates submitted by Etteh to the electoral umpire.
The testimonies set the stage for the star witness, Rt Hon. Eyiboh, who entered the witness box to adopt his witness’ statement on oath and reply to Etteh’s response.
Hon Etteh’s counsel, Ekpenyong Ntekim, met a resilient and sharp witness in Eyiboh.
In the face of barrage of questions from the INEC and PDP counsel, Eyiboh remain resolute, consistent and vehement in pursuit of his claims.
Meanwhile, it is not clear why Etteh was absent in court and declined to enter defence and defend himself of the weighty allegations bordering on forgeries with preponderance of strong evidence.
The tribunal, headed by Hon Justice Kudirat Jose, and has as members Hon Justice Philomena Nweke and Hon Justice Mua’zu Abubakar, has adjourned for exchange of briefs of arguments.