Winner of the election for the Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency seat, Cross River State in the House of Representatives, Dr Alex Egbona has told the elections petition tribunal sitting in Calabar that he defeated his closest rival and speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Mr John Gaul Lebo in a contest that was clearly transparent and devoid of thuggery and violence.
In fact, Egbona who was declared winner by INEC told the tribunal that he actually defeated the speaker with a wide margin of votes, scoring 5233 votes as against the 2461 margin as declared by the electoral umpire.
In his response to Gaul's petition, Egbona the allegations of intimidation, violence and thuggery were criminal in nature and challenged Gaul to prove the allegations by producing those who masterminded the alleged acts before the tribunal.
Also, he wants the PDP candidate who lost at the election to not only produce the alleged masterminds but to also join them in the petition as required by law. Gaul himself is a lawyer.
This is coming just as the Rep member-elect has asked the tribunal to strike out the petition for lacking in merit. He said in a separate application before the tribunal that Gaul's petition was inconsistent in pleadings.
For example, Gaul is claiming that the election should be annulled for irregularities and substantial non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and at the same time asking the tribunal to declare him the winner.
Last Thursday, the pre-trial session of the case begun, with the tribunal members-V.N. Agbata(chairman) from Anambra, Ishaku Kunda from Plateau State and Abubakar Bello from Kebbi as members present.
Also present at the hearing was Egbona and a crowd of followers who thronged the court to declare their continued support for him. Gaul was absent from the tribunal.
The highpoints of Egbona's defence are that he won the election without rigging and that votes were not allotted to him as alleged by his opponent.
According to him, the election was conducted in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act
He said his people voted for him because he remained the only hope of the people of Ekureku and enjoyed their support, moreso because he was their only son who took part in the elections.
He said if there was any form of violence during the election, the PDP agents would not have signed the result sheets and collected same as declared by the agents, in their statement.