Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
An election petitions tribunal sitting in Calabar has dismissed the suit filled by the Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC and the party against the candidates of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Stephen Odey, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC challenging the results of the outcome of the By-election of December 5, 2020 for the seat of the Cross River North senatorial district.
In a unanimous judgment, the three man pannel, Justices John Olajide Abe, Gilbert Ngele Alo and led by Justice Yusuf Ubale Muhammad, struck out the petition with suit No: EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020 after much hearing and scrutiny from the parties involved.
The APC and it’s candidate had argued that they should be declared winner of the election having scored the highest valid votes at the time the votes for the PDP in the by-election was “invalid” and “wasted” because they had no candidate in the polls.
Reacting, Counsel to the petitioner, Oladimeji Ekemgba stated that they will further study the judgment and proceed to the appellate court if the need arises.
He said: “Our response is that we will study the judgment and avail our clients the best advice as to what to do. We Have seen some appealable grounds, we will test it and be able to know whether the political party is permitted under our law to fued two candidates for an election because our main ground here is that PDP fielded two candidates for the election while their other party fielded one candidate.
“The judgement of the Supreme Court is that Jarigbe is the candidate of the party how come Stephen Odey is issued is a certificate is what we don’t know. So we would look at it and see what the appelate court would say about it. It will further help our law and our democracy.
“When we get to the appelate court we will know whether what my Lords said or whether their jugmemt is currect or not because the fact is that there’s judgment of the Supreme Court that said that qualifications of a candidate are matters under the jurisdiction of the election petition tribunal. So if a candidate is not qualified and section 138 1A of the electoral Act provides that I can come here and challenge his qualification or return. So if my Lords are saying no we can’t come here we would take it upstairs to whether our law or electoral Act has been changed, that is our petition”.
Meanwhile, Director General of Cross River State Due Process, Alphonsus Ogar Eba while speaking with journalists expressed happiness particularly because of the court’s statement that Stephen Odey was the substantive candidate of the PDP at the time of the elections.
He said: “I am very happy but happier because God has come in human form to show Himself in this judgment that has just been delivered. God is a God of justice and supreme justice that is divine has just been done today and to God be the glory.
“One good thing in this judgment is fact that the action that was done by INEC on the 18th of December which has been the plank on which the second respondent, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe has been hinging on, today has been declared by this court as a jiggery pockery and so I don’t know what they intend to do. They might decide to embark on a journey of vain expectations, that have the stamina, that have the energy for that, but the court has said we have found nothing to upturn that declaration of Senator Stephen Adie Odey.
“The good news is not about the defection, it’s about the justice of the case. I was in PDP yesterday even though I am in APC today but let justice be done. Senator Odey is still in PDP, let it be done according to the will of God and that is what God has done so it has nothing to do with defection.
“What the court has said today was that the petition Joe Agi, SAN filled and said that PDP had no candidate was not true. That court found here today that Senator Dr. Stephen Adie Odey was the candidate that was dully sponsored, who participated in all the stages of the election, and was declared winner on the 6th and everything that was done there was perfect and court could not find any reason to upturn that. It also want further to say that, because the second respondent Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, his name was not forwarded, he did not participate, everything he did was just a nullity and goes to no avail. Then the second point is that all the criminal allegations that the petitioner raised about the second point of the issue he raised, himself abandoned it but the tribunal went further to say that those grounds do not accord section 138 sub section 1 ABC Of the electoral Act as amended in 2010.”