The election that ushered Udom Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom State, into a second term in office has been affirmed at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, the state capital.

The tribunal gave its verdict on Thursday, dismissing the petition brought before it by the opposing Nsima Ekere, and his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state.

Mr Emmanuel who sought re-election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 9 governorship election trounced Mr Ekere, a former chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Delivering judgment, the three-member tribunal headed by Justice A.M Yakuba, dismissed the case filed by APC and its candidate, Mr Ekere, on grounds that the petition lacked merit.

Mr Yakubu held that the petitioners failed to call witnesses in eight local government areas out of the 21 where they claimed to have won, discountenancing every documentary evidence that was brought before it while declaring Emmanuel as duly elected.

Reacting to his victory, the governor extended an olive branch to his opponents, urging them to join hands with him in building the state.

“To my fellow brothers and sisters on the opposite end of the political divide, I am extending my hand of fellowship again to join me in building a state that would be the pride of us all – an economically viable, infrastructurally developed, morally sound and forward looking State where the abiding cords of our unity  and brotherhood will be strengthened,” he said in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ekerette Udoh, after thanking God and the people of the state.

“In every political contest, a winner must emerge and the loser must accept the verdict of the people. The Akwa Ibom people have spoken, they spoke loudly and clearly on March 9, 2019, by overwhelmingly re-electing me to a second term.

“The time has come for us to come together and move our dear State forward. The Completion Agenda is  an Akwa Ibom Agenda and we must all be invested in its execution,” the governor added.