July 19, 2024

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C’River APC Guber Ticket: Owan Enoh Will Lose At Supreme Court -Eteng

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Chief Utum Eteng, is a private legal practitioner based in Calabar. He is the director, legal services in the Prince Otu Campaign Organization. In this interview with GODWIN AJOM, he gives more insight into the lingering court case between Senator John Owan Enoh and Senator Bassey Otu, both of the All Progressives Congress(APC) and currently battling over the rightful candidate of the party ahead of the governorship election in the state. 


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At what point do you think Prince Bassey Otu made the mistake that brought about the lingering court case between him and Senator John Owan Enoh?
There has been no error that brought about this case. I don’t know the error that is created in the mind of the claimant or the appellant. Proper primaries where ordered according to the All Progressives Congress (APC) constitution and as required by the guidelines of the party for the congresses, committees were put in place to screen the claims of aspirants, which was done. It is a simple fact. For me as a person, given the circumstance and the facts within my personal knowledge, the case instituted from the beginning, died on arrival. Even the appeal, the appeal died on arrival and any further appeal, it would die on arrival because it is an elementary aspect of administrative law. The APC set up a screening committee to screen its members who went to buy forms and they said inconclusive. You know from elementary English, when a thing is inconclusive, it means that it is pending conclusion, the committee forwarded their report to the body that set up the committee, it is elementary, it doesn’t need any legal argument. Like the court rightly said, the National Working Committee (NWC) could clear anybody. So why are you stressing this elementary point? A man sets up a committee and he said this man is qualified; he has presented to us the papers necessary, the ones that were not present to the committee were because he said the originals were not with him and he brought the originals and you give him a pass mark. To be frank, I find it difficult to see any wisdom in the case of the appellant(Owan Enoh).



Do you think the APC is not doing enough to handle this matter?
For me, if I say I have no idea of the steps that the party and other stakeholders have taken to appeal to the disputants to lay off their arms and follow the path of dialogue, I’ll be telling lies. Almost everybody, the party itself tried as much as possible to get in touch; the party has done so much. His Excellency Sir Benedict Ayade as leader of the party in the state has done his beat, residents in Abuja have done their beat, so what does Senator Owan Enoh really want?


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What particularly has the party done?
No, I know what you’re trying to input. Number one, a few have suggested, you have to discipline party members that are not in conformity, but that stick is wielded with caution. Apart from that, not that Owan is indispensable; everybody is dispensable in life, in office and everything. But I think, the party is trading with caution because Owan, having been in the party, an old member of the party, perhaps let the old members not feel that one of them is treated unfairly, but that’s not the case. If you have gone to the high court, you lost, you go again to the appeal court you lost, you still want to be a champion? You should be able to say he who fights and runs lives to fight another day. To me, that’s the most sensible approach I would adopt. But for me, I have seen the case, for me it has a very, very weak foundation.



Should Senator Owan Enoh win this case going forward how would you take it?
I have read the case from the beginning to the end, that case died on arrival. So this question I have no answer to it, I have never found the case succeeding in any way, it’s a dead case on arrival.



One major argument is that Senator Otu was not fully cleared…
Who determines who is fully or not fully cleared? Who determines the full clearance of a candidate, is it his opponent or the man who set’s up the committee to screen? Assuming that argument doesn’t amount at any meaning, one would ask, why was the committee set up? It was set to report to another committee, which is the NWC. Was there any documents showing that this man was disqualified? Of course none. I said it from the beginning, the easiest way to prove is by a document from the people in charge to say you are disqualified, because it is either you are cleared, qualified or disqualified. No documents say Prince Otu was disqualified, so why try to create a mountain out of a little crowd?


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Having postponed your campaign flag off at Ogoja, how prepared is your team amidst challenges of funds?
We are fully ready, Our campaign organization is headed by an experienced director- general, Ambassador Soni Abang, a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) state chairman and former local government chairman, he has been a Nigerian ambassador to Mali and he is assisted by Ntufam (Dr) Peter Odey, an experienced political tactician. The composition of the camping organization is made of the who-is-who in Cross River state. Even though we have a campaign organization, we are subject to the directive of the party, because the party, is superior to the campaign organization: We were to launch our campaign in Ogoja about a fortnight ago but an intervening factor caused it to be postponed. The governor of Cross River State who is the leader of APC in the South-South, and other stakeholders were nominated to join the APC presidential candidate, His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in his team to the United Kingdom. So they travelled along with him. We could not have launched the campaign in the absence of the leader of the party, who incidentally has the authority and mandate and qualification capacity to hand over the flags to the flagbearers of the party in different positions. It’s not about finance, that’s the reason. But we are quite prepared for the campaigns.



There is another case against your candidate, by the PDP. How is your party coping with that?
There is no case filed for now against Ntufam Prince Bassey Edet Otu, the case filed by the PDP against Prince Bassey Otu was dismissed in his favour against PDP on the 24th of last month (November), for lacking in merit. So, there is no case pending, to the best of my knowledge.


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But the case was against your deputy governorship candidate, wasn’t it?
It was. That is the case I am talking about; it has been dismissed by the court, I don’t know if they would go on appeal. When they go, they would serve us the appeal. Even PDP has cases against them, it’s the nature of our political experience in Cross River State. Our party is for the progressives, and they insist on everything to be done properly; they insist on justice, so it’s not a bad thing for one to go to court because it is a mark of civilization. But one should know the extent to which he or she should or shouldn’t go. If you insist that the courts in the first and second instances are wrong, then you must be a loner and you cannot be a loner in such a large world. It is important that we should stress the doctrine of live and let’s live. By that I mean; if the south has taken, the central has taken and the north, it is important that it starts from the south. Let us go in that order, it may be disputed for now, but once it is established firmly, no matter the political parties that come, it would know that an order of precedent has been set for other generations to follow. All the three senatorial districts have capable hands to run for governorship, but at a time, we must go for one, we should learn to be patient and wait for our time.



But some have argued that the zoning can start from any zone and still rotate to every other zone.
They have their opinion, protected by the constitution to air out their views, but you cannot air your democratic freedom devoid of equity, fairness and orderliness. We need to entrench the order for everyone to know, that’s what we are emphasising.

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